Changes to workers compensation brought in by the NSW government
mean that an amputated foot is no longer considered a serious
injury. Also under the harsh new rules covering injured workers,
people needing prosthetic limbs or hearing aids are no longer
provided with ongoing medical benefits.
As the Sydney Morning Herald reports, this means an 80
year old man who lost most of his hearing after working with jack
hammers will have to pay $8,500 to replace his hearing aids every
three years. He can't afford it and will be condemned to
These are just a few examples of the unfairness of the new
WorkCover scheme that leaves only the most catastrophically injured
workers receiving ongoing financial assistance. The number of
injured workers receiving benefits under WorkCover has been slashed
from 70,500 in 2012 to 60,000 in 2013. The cost of resolving
disputes is now often higher than the cost of the claim.
Critics of the changes warned back in 2012 that they were
unnecessarily cruel and handed decision making on injury payments
to the insurance companies.
The government said at the time they had to tighten workers
compensation entitlements as the WorkCover scheme was costing too
much and had a $4 billion deficit.
But now a new report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers tabled in
parliament challenges the government's case for the tough
The report says that without the 2012 changes the deficit would
have fallen to $2 billion by June 2014, and to $500 million by June
2018. If the government had done nothing the WorkCover scheme could
have reached full funding by 2021.
What's more, by 2019 the restricted benefits for injured
workers will leave WorkCover holding 55 per cent more in assets
than it needs to meet its liabilities.
Greens MP David Shoebridge said the report shows the
government's arguments for slashing injured workers'
compensation benefits was "masquerading as economic
"Injured workers and their families will be furious to
discover the flimsy rationale for the cuts that have so affected
their ability to live with dignity after a work injury," he
told the Herald.
The government is due to review the 2012 changes to the
WorkCover scheme later this year. Finance and Services Minister
Dominic Perrottet said he would review the data from the PwC report
and will also commission an independent statutory review by the
Centre for International Economics.
Even though it has been made a lot harder for injured workers to
pursue compensation, it would be wise for people injured at work to
seek advice from a specialist lawyer experienced in the field.
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.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
Long experience representing many of Australia's leading employers has taught us that in employment litigation the identity of an employee's representative is a major factor in how employee litigation runs.
Australian employees receive certain entitlements (such as annual leave and superannuation) where contractors do not.
Some comments from our readers… “The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable” “I often find critical information not available elsewhere” “As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).