Increased workers comp benefits for seriously injured in NSW

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Increased workers comp benefits for seriously injured in NSW

The most seriously injured workers in New South Wales will receive substantially increased WorkCover benefits from 17 September, Minister for Finance and Services Greg Pearce announced. However, unions say the scheme makes life ‘harder’ for injured workers.

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The most seriously injured workers in New South Wales will receive substantially increased WorkCover benefits from 17 September, Minister for Finance and Services Greg Pearce announced yesterday. However, unions say the scheme makes life ‘harder’ for injured workers.

The weekly benefit for workers with more than 30% whole of person impairment (WPI) increases to a minimum of $736 per week, pursuant to WorkCover reforms legislated by the Workers Compensation Legislation Amendment Act 2012.

Pearce said the reform will benefit 940 men and women who have been seriously injured at work.

‘[These workers] will be guaranteed a rate which is around 70% more than the previous statutory rate, an increase from $432 to $736 per week, following the Government’s reform of the scheme,’ he said.

‘We promised to improve the system and we have. As a result seriously injured workers will have more money from today and access to medical treatment for life.’

‘Employers and the economy have also benefited because the forecast 28 per cent rise in WorkCover premiums was avoided, saving up to 12,600 jobs,’ he said.

Next phase of reforms starts 1 Oct
 
Pearce said he had been gratified to learn of the feedback WorkCover had received when it contacted many of the injured workers last week to inform them of the increased benefits.

‘Many said they were amazed to hear their benefits were increasing, and increasing so substantially,’ he said.

Pearce said the increase in payments is the next stage in the roll-out of reforms to the state’s workers compensation system.

‘The next phase starts on October 1, and workers who make a claim on or after this date will receive benefits which more closely relate to workers actual earnings prior to injury,’ he said.

‘In the final phase from 1 January 2013, workers who made a claim prior to 1 October will be transitioned to the new legislative requirements.’

‘WorkCover is working to ensure that all those affected by the reforms adjust to the changes as smoothly as possible.’
 
New scheme in NSW makes ‘life harder’
 
Unions have accused the NSW Minister for Finance, Greg Pearce, of making claims about the state’s newly reformed WorkCover system, which demonstrate he is ‘clearly out of touch’ on workers compensation.

Unions NSW secretary Mark Lennon said Pearce ‘neatly gloss[ed] over the fact that rights, entitlements and medical coverage have been decimated for the vast majority of workers’ with his announcement that seriously injured workers (ie those with more than 30% whole of person impairment) now receive improved benefits under the new system.
 
Lennon said Pearce’s statement comes after he told parliament on Thursday that ‘there is no chaos’ with the new system and ‘it is all humming along happily’.

‘Mr Pearce [is] disconnected from the experience in workplaces, hospitals and occupational rehabilitation centres across the State,’ Lennon said.

‘In the first fortnight of the new workers compensation system, unions, law firms and support groups have been swamped with enquiries and concerns.’

‘The Injured Workers Support Network saw an 800% increase in website hits and was deluged with highly distressing stories from sick and injured workers across the State.’

‘The Minister has already made life a lot harder for sick and injured worker across the State by slashing their rights, entitlements and cover.’

‘But to now contend that things are “humming along nicely” is simply offensive.’

‘We would challenge Minister Pearce to meet with a delegation from the Injured Workers Support Network and explain to them why he thinks the system is working so well.’
 
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