The Workers Compensation Scheme has changed again, but what has really changed? Is it going to be better for workers? Or are we just moving the red tape around?
Workers Compensation has long been accused of being overly complex, bureaucratic, and incomprehensible. Add to that the gradual stripping away of benefits for workers over the years with the addition of arbitrary cut-offs, thresholds, and stricter eligibility criteria, and you are left with a “safety net” full of gigantic holes.
This law underwent a review, with several goals in mind. They were to:
– Strengthen regulation and oversight of workers compensation insurance;
– Make resolving disputes easier and quicker;
– To make management of claims and disputes less complex and more efficient.
The 2018 review was to overhaul three major areas – Work Capacity Assessments, Weekly Benefits Payments, and Medical Disputes. These areas were believed to be overly procedural, complicated, and took too long to sort out.
So – will these changes actually fix the problems they set out to fix?
Possibly. But will workers be rejoicing? – No.
ACTUAL CHANGES MADE:
Work Capacity Decisions (where the insurer decides how much work a worker can do) will be challenged by applying directly to the Commission, which streamlines the dispute process.
The changes to the weekly benefits provisions are supposed to simplify the process of working out what an injured worker should be paid, but does very little to actually achieve this. The location of the defined terms are moved around, hidden away in a schedule rather than in the main body of the act so that the main provisions look less complicated – but they remain almost just as complicated.
Medical disputes can now be determined a bit faster, when you apply to the Commission. It might shave off a month from the dispute process.
For the average worker on injury benefits, the things you would actually care about are not touched by this legislation. The real issues are things like the answers to these questions:
Will I get all the paid medical treatment I need for my work injury?
Will I get all the income support I require whilst I am injured?
Will the compensation I get be enough to compensate me for what I have lost?
Will I be able to survive long-term with my work injury?
The answer to all these questions remains “no”, unless your injury is considered “serious enough”, and it is quite easy to fall short of this. Medical benefits will get cut off a period of time after your weekly benefits do. For most workers, the maximum period you can receive income is 130 weeks, or two and half years.
However, if you are injured at work, there might be other claims you can make which provide better support for your injury and your recovery, or living with a disability. The biggest problem is that there are strict time limits with compensation, and you need to act fast.
If you are on Workers Compensation and you would like a free, confidential discussion of what other benefits you may be entitled to, contact Brazel Moore Compensation Lawyers on 4324 7699 and speak with a compensation expert today.