The announcement by the Baird NSW government that it is
overhauling the workers' compensation scheme is welcome.
Finance Minister Dominic Perrotet has announced $1 billion worth of
benefits for injured workers will be restored. Previously severe
restrictions on who can receive compensation for injuries in the
workplace will be relaxed.
The changes come after a determined campaign by Stacks Law Firm
and groups representing injured workers against the harsh and
severe cuts to workers compensation made by the government in 2012.
These cuts resulted in the slashing of medical benefits to injured
workers including those who had sustained serious injury in
Perrotet said the government was now moving to a fairer system
that will better support injured workers. Improvements in benefits
will include increased entitlements to medical expenses, prosthesis
and hearing aids.
The threshold for injured workers with permanent impairment who
are entitled to lifelong medical expenses will be lowered from 30
to 20 per cent impairment to the body.
People who are currently denied benefits for prosthetics and
hearing aids will get them for life. Medical benefits will be
extended from 12 months to two years beyond when they last received
weekly benefits for people with less serious injuries that are up
to ten per cent impairment.
For those with more serious injuries that involve 11 to 20 per
cent impairment, medical benefits will be provided for five years
beyond the date those people last received weekly benefits.
The lump sum death benefit will increase from $524,000 to
$750,000 and funeral expenses will rise from $9,000 to $15,000.
The changes go to Cabinet on Tuesday. They also include a major
overhaul of WorkCover to address a conflict of interest in its dual
role as both safety regulator and insurer. WorkCover will be split
into three agencies to separate its safety and insurance
"We welcome the restoration of many of the injured
workers' benefits that were drastically cut three years
ago," said Stacks Law Firm chairman Tim Stack OAM.
"Those cuts had a devastating impact on many injured
workers and their families," he said. "Hopefully there
can be further relaxations of these harsh laws in the
"We hope these increased benefits will ease the pain for
injured workers, but it remains to be seen how these latest changes
to the scheme will work out in practice."
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An employee that refused a reasonable offer of settlement was ordered by the FWC to pay his ex-employer's legal costs.
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