If you have an accepted injury under the NSW Workers Compensation Scheme, you are entitled to weekly payments for the periods you remain unable to work as a result of that injury.

In the long term, the weekly benefits paid will likely not reach your pre-injury income. However, if you are an exempt worker, being a police officer, a paramedic or a firefighter, you could receive further weekly benefits as a top-up if you have two separate and distinct workplace injuries.

As an exempt worker, certain changes to the law in 2012 and 2015 do not apply to you. One example of this is your entitlements for weekly benefits.

Weekly Compensation under the Exempt Workers Scheme

Under the scheme, you are entitled to weekly benefits when you are totally or partially incapacitated to work from your injury. Your certificates of capacity provide guidance to the insurer regarding your capacity, although other medical evidence may be relevant too.

In the case of you being unable to work:

  1. The scheme itself only provides payments for 6-month of your pre-injury award rate wage without shift penalties, overtime or allowances.
  2. If you are a police officer, you may be entitled to a top up from the NSW Police Force, at the cessation of the 6 months.
  3. After this period, your payments shift to the ‘statutory rate’, which is an amount fixed by the law and is indexed twice each year in April and October. You will also be provided an additional dependency allowance for those who are dependent on your income, like children.

Should you partially be able to work, similar rules apply.

  1. If you are undertaking suitable duties, you will be provided ‘make-up’ pay if the income you earn for the hours you work whilst undertaking suitable duties is less than what you earned before your injury. This is usually calculated based on the difference between your pre-injury earning and the amount you are earning while on suitable duties.
  2. The amount paid as a top-up if you are working suitable duties also shifts to the statutory rate after 6-months.
  3. The exception to this similarity is if you partially incapacitated but suitable duties are not available, so long as you are undertaking rehabilitation or undertaking retraining approved by the insurer or job seeking, different rates of compensation apply. You will also only be entitled to this form of compensation for 52-weeks.

As shown, there are many circumstances where the amount paid to you under the scheme will not reach the amount you would have earned prior to the injury. In our experience, exempt workers tend to have multiple workplace injuries. In isolation, one injury can provide some inability to work. However, when combining the injuries, they can collectively cause a further inability – if not a total inability – to work.

The insurers tend to pay weekly benefits for a single injury in isolation, even when you have another injury causing a further inability to work. Should you be in this position, you could be entitled to a further amount which could reach your pre-injury wage.

How to claim further weekly compensation

As an exempt worker, you could be entitled to claim another set of weekly benefits if you have two workplace injuries. These injuries will need to be separate and distinct. A good example of a separate and distinct injury is where you injured your right knee while performing a rescue. Then, a year later, you suffer from a psychological and/or psychiatric illness as a result of experiencing a series of traumatic and/or confronting incidents in the course of your employment. As they have arisen from different circumstances, they are separate and distinct.

If, however, the knee injury itself causes you to suffer a consequential psychological and/or psychiatric illness in isolation, the injuries will not be separate or distinct injury. One occurred because of the other.

Therefore, if it is established you have a separate and distinct injury and should those injuries incapacitate you in some form of employment for which you are working or may reasonably be expected to work or look for work in, you may be entitled to another set of weekly compensation.

The claim will be made on the insurer, but most matters will eventually be heard before the Personal Injury Commission who will make a binding decision based on the evidence before them.

There are certain limitations which can apply.

Get In Touch With Us

If you have been off work and have two injuries, you can contact our office for further information. At Turner Freeman, we have dedicated lawyers specialising in compensation for officers of the NSW Police Force, and who will assess your case and provide personalised advice regarding your legal entitlements. For further information contact us today on 13 43 63.