Workers Compensation Amendment (Protection of Injured Workers) Bill 2017 Introduced by NSW Labor MP

Tuesday 10 October 2017 @ 10.38 a.m. | Legal Research

Labor MP Clayton Barr has introduced the Workers Compensation Amendment (Protection of Injured Workers) Bill 2017 (NSW) (‘the Bill’) into the NSW Parliament. The Bill is currently being considered in the Legislative Assembly.


The current workers compensation scheme has been attracting some criticism, particularly focused on changes affecting injured workers' compensation that have started to come into effect from October. These changes will allow only the most seriously injured people to qualify for workers' compensation. Greens MP David Shoebridge has told The Sydney Morning Herald  the changes mean that some workers on compensation schemes who could have been receiving benefits for almost 13 years will have their benefits cut off. Mr Shoebridge said

“Those long-term injured workers who manage to get Newstart will be forced to make at least 20 job applications a month and they know because of their injury, age and long period on compo, no one will employ them. Any more workers will get no Commonwealth benefits because of the fact that their partner works, even in a part-time job, which excludes them from Newstart and Disability support payments. This is a recipe for demoralisation and depression.”

 However, Finance Minister Victor Dominello said:

“Changes similar to those that were passed in NSW in 2012 already exist in other states. Every impacted worker has been contacted and provided with customised support. We are committed to providing injured workers with the support they need to return to work. In NSW more than 90 per cent of injured workers return to work within six months.”

Key Proposed Amendments

In light of this context, the new Bill proposes to amend the Workers Compensation Act 1987 (NSW) to effect four changes:

  • To remove restrictions on a worker’s entitlement to make a journey claim;
  • To make changes to what constitutes suitable employment for the purposes of compensation with reference to the circumstances of the worker;
  • To remove the five year cut-off period for weekly payments and remove the provision that limits payment of an injured worker’s medical expenses;
  • To make it an offence for an employer to dismiss an injured worker.

Mr Barr said in his second reading speech:

“I introduced the Workers Compensation Amendment (Protection of Injured Workers) Bill 2017 because it is the right thing to do. It is not for the purpose of political point scoring but I know that is what critics will say. If the Government would like to introduce a similar bill I will happily withdraw mine. I do not want accolades; I just want what is right for injured workers across the State. No-one should be under the illusion that the amendments proposed in this bill will result in fairness for all injured workers. The amendments will not do that. Returning fairness and equity to workers compensation would require a complete overhaul.”

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Workers Compensation Amendment (Protection of Injured Workers) Bill 2017 (NSW), explanatory memorandum and second reading speech, as published on Timebase LawOne.

Anna Patty, 'Injured workers over 50 face being thrown onto 'scrapheap', (The Sydney Morning Herald ) 23 September 2017.

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