On 1 January 2015 the Return to Work Act 2014 (SA) (“The Return to Work Act”) came into operation in South Australia. The Return to Work Act represents the most significant reform to worker’s compensation law in South Australia since 1986 and will have a significant effect on all workers who are claiming entitlements under the workers compensation scheme.

What does this mean?

The Act will operate retrospectively meaning that not only will worker’s injured after 1 July 2015 be affected but all workers with a current entitlement to compensation will be subject to the provisions of the Act.

If you were injured before 1 July 2015 and have been receiving weekly income payments or payment of your medical expenses your claim will have transitioned to the Return to Work Act and your entitlements may have changed significantly.

The following table highlights the major changes between the new Return to Work Act and the old Worker’s Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1986 (SA), which was in force prior to 1 July 2015.

Entitlement Worker’s Rehabilitation and Compensation Act Return to Work Act (post-1 July)
Medical Expenses Payment of reasonable medical expenses on an ongoing basis (section 32) Payment of reasonable medical expenses for 1 year after the date of your accident (section 33)
If “seriously injured” – payment of medical expenses on an ongoing basis and exceptions for certain expenses (including surgery and therapeutic devices)
Income Maintenance (weekly income payments) Payment of income maintenance during the period which the worker is certified incapacitated for 2.5 years following injury with the possibility of an extension depending on work capacity and until retirement age (section 35) Payment of income maintenance for a maximum of 2 years after the date of your accident and limited to the period which the worker is certified incapacitated for employment (section 39)
If “seriously injured” – payment of income maintenance during the period which the worker is certified incapacitated for employment until retirement age

In effect, the legislation reduces the entitlements available to the majority of worker’s who will make a claim to one year of medical expenses and two years of weekly income maintenance payments if you are not working at pre injury work capacity.

What if I don’t meet the threshold?

If you have an existing injury and are receiving income maintenance payments, or have suffered an injury and are unable to work, it is important to obtain advice with regards to your entitlements to determine whether you are “seriously injured” and to determine the extent of your ongoing entitlements so you can plan for the future.

If you have a serious injury but do not meet the threshold for a “seriously injured” worker you should contact us to determine whether you may be able to access benefits under your superannuation policy such as ongoing income protection payments or a lump sum Total and Permanent Disablement or Terminal Illness Benefit.

How can we help you?

If you have a claim for worker’s compensation and require specific advice regarding the nature of your entitlements under the Return to Work Act then you should contact Turner Freeman Lawyers (SA) on (08) 8213 1000 to obtain specialist legal advice specific to your work related injury.