Workers Compensation Amendments in NSW: Cognate Bills to Review Financial Positions
The New South Wales parliament has introduced the Workers Compensation Amendment Bill 2015 and the cognate State Insurance and Care Governance Bill 2015. The bills set out to fulfil the commitment made by the NSW Government to review the financial position of the workers compensation scheme. The bills also set out to enhance the benefits for injured workers, provide a performance discount for employers with good safety and return to work records, and introduce three new organisations to operate and regulate the State's insurance schemes and regulate workplace safety.
Workers Compensation Bill 2015
This Bill amends the Workers Compensation Act 1987 by:
- Changing the limitations on the compensation payable for medical and related treatment which currently applies to medical and related treatment and services provided more than twelve months after a worker’s claim for compensation was made. Under the bill, the limitation will no longer apply to compensation relating to crutches, artificial aids, home or vehicle modifications or secondary injury. It also will no longer apply to injured workers with 21-30% permanent impairment. Further to this, the period in which a worker may be eligible to claim compensation is extended to 2 years in respect of workers with 10% permanent injury and 5 years for workers with 20% injury;
- Changing the payment scheme of weekly compensation. Workers who receive an injury before retirement age will be eligible for compensation up to and 12 months after retiring age. Also, an injured worker with work capacity and more than 20% permanent impairment will no longer be required to work for a minimum number of hours and earn a minimum wage in order to be eligible for compensation. Further, the minimum amount of weekly compensation that an injured worker with more than 30% permanent impairment will be eligible to receive will be the amount of $788.32 (being a combined total of compensation and earnings), to be indexed twice a year;
- Introducing a new scheme whereby injured workers who have received weekly compensation for up to 78 weeks may receive compensation for the cost of education or training to assist their return to the workforce;
- Increasing the lump sum compensation payable to a worker for permanent impairment;
- Increasing the lump sum compensation payable in respect of the death of a worker from $524,000 to $750,000; and
- The maximum amount of compensation payable in respect of the funeral expenses of a deceased worker will be increased from $9,000 to $15,000.
Part 3 of the bill also establishes the new State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA). SIRA will independently assume the regulatory functions of WorkCover in relation to workers compensation insurance and related activities, the Motor Accidents Authority in relation to compulsory third party (CTP) insurance, and NSW Fair Trading in relation to home building insurance. Mr Dominic Perrottet said in his second reading speech:
“SIRA will focus on ensuring that key public policy outcomes are being achieved in relation to service delivery to injured people, affordability, and the effective management and sustainability of the insurance schemes.”
State Insurance and Care Governance Bill 2015
The object of this Bill is to reform the governance and regulatory arrangements for various insurance and compensation schemes established under legislation
Also, the role of WorkCover in enforcing work health and safety legislation will be transferred to a separate statutory regulator, which will be called SafeWork NSW by this bill. SafeWork NSW will focus on harm It will also include the establishment of a centre of excellence for work, health and safety in NSW. The new structure will be more transparent and accountable and, most importantly, lead to better outcomes for injured workers. There will be no job loss as a result of these improvements.
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Workers Compensation Amendment Bill 2015 as reproduced in TimeBase LawOne
State Insurance and Care Governance Bill 2015 as reproduced in TimeBase LawOne