Here's what you need to know...
What is the new Bill?
Victorian government passed the Omnibus (Emergency Measures) Bill in both houses of Parliament on 23 April 2020. A necessary piece of legislation that, amongst other things, directly impacts some long term injured Victorian workers.
The Bill recognizes the difficulty with injured workers who are transitioning off their payments and unable to return to their pre-injury employment and/or alternatively who are unable to then find work due to the Coronavirus crisis.
Which workers does the Omnibus Bill affect?
If you were given Notice from WorkSafe (the Insurer/Agent) about the termination of your weekly payments of compensation as your 130-week mark was approaching (the expiry of the second entitlement period to compensation), anytime from 1 December 2019 and you have an ongoing incapacity for your pre-injury employment as per your Certificates of Capacity, this bill affects you.
What does it mean for you?Ordinarily WorkCover is required to give you 13 weeks Notice when their intention is to terminate your entitlement to ongoing weekly payments of compensation beyond 130 weeks.
However with the passing of the new Bill, WorkCover are entitled to now give you 39 weeks of Notice, which equates to an additional 26 weeks/6 months of weekly payments of compensation.
This Bill works retrospectively from 1 December 2019 and this interim amendment will end on 1 June 2020. We will wait to see if the government extends this provision and as you may understand, much of this depends on how the Pandemic crisis evolves in Victoria.
How does the Omnibus Bill work with respect to Injured Victorians?
Ordinarily a worker who is on weekly payments of compensation, provided they are still certified as having an incapacity for their pre-injury employment, would be entitled to such payments for a total of 130 weeks (the second entitlement period).
When the second entitlement period is soon to end, as per Section 189(3)(e) of the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Act (VIC) 2013, the required period of Notice to an injured worker regarding their termination of weekly payments of compensation is 13 weeks.
The test for remaining on weekly payments of compensation beyond the second entitlement period (beyond 130 weeks) is difficult and challenging for injured workers, to say the least.
However due to the Omnibus Bill, an injured worker who had received Notice regarding the expiry of the second entitlement period from 1 December 2019 will continue to receive their weekly payments of compensation for an additional 26 weeks beyond their specific 130 week mark.
For example if you received a Notice on 1 December 2019, which terminates your entitlement to weekly payments of compensation, those payments would have ended on or about 2 March 2020. This would mean now that you have an additional 26 weeks (39 -13 weeks) notice. Hence your entitlement to weekly payments of compensation would then end on or about 30 August 2020.
Another example may be:
If your 130 weeks of weekly payments of compensation ended on or about 30 April 2020, you may have been given notice 13 weeks prior, on or about 30 January 2020. This now means that you are entitled to an additional 26 weeks of weekly payments of compensation, extending your entitlement to on or about 29 October 2020.
Who do I contact if the Omnibus Bill affects me?
Please contact our Melbourne office for advice if you or anyone you know is affected by these temporary changes for a free initial consultation.
If you are an existing client, please get in contact with our Melbourne office (if we have not already reached out to you) for support during this crisis if you believe you are captured by the Omnibus Bill.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.