Planned cuts to WorkCover

by HCA16 May 2012

The New South Wales State Government has plans to overhaul the current landscrape of workers’ compensation entitlements in response to a multi-billion dollar blowout in claims – there is currently a $4 billion deficit in the WorkCover scheme.

Under the proposed changes, medical benefits for injured workers would be capped, while claims for injuries incurred while travelling to and from work would be banned. The planned changes would also scrap compensation for injuries sustained during trips and payouts to partners of those killed on the job.

The proposal has angered unions, many of which say the changes would force sick and injured people back to work before they were ready and drive others onto pensions and into poverty. “At the moment injured workers’ payments are basically at the award rate for the first 26 weeks and then they move to a statutory rate,” Mark Lennon from Unions New South Wales said. “The Government is proposing to reduce their payments after 13 weeks but we're seeing proposals that, after two-and-a-half years, weekly payments would cease. Also after two-and-a-half years for those injured, severely injured workers and others, it appears there'll be a cap on their medical payments,” Lennon said.

Lennon acknowledged the $4 billion deficit in the WorkCover scheme needs to be addressed, but said reforms which would help injured workers get back to work more quickly could equally address the deficit. He warned that the government’s proposed changes would force injured and sick people even further away from work. “Ultimately what happens is that they end up moving onto other forms of benefits such as disability support pensions,” Lennon said.

A parliamentary inquiry into the proposed changes begins this week and will report back next month.

Related Story: Should ‘fit notes’ replace ‘sick notes’?


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