Possible reform of NSW Workers Compensation on the horizon

We are pleased to advise a new parliamentary report was released on 9 March 2017 by the Standing Committee on Law and Justice, titled “First review of the workers compensation scheme” The report conducts a review of the current scheme and makes recommendations for major reforms in the hope of simplifying the scheme and making it fairer for injured workers.

The Committee highlights many of the concerns raised by injured workers and various stakeholders and makes 26 recommendations for reform which include:

  • Making insurer’s more accountable by imposing penalties on those who exert undue pressure on nominated treating doctors; the development of a guideline insurer’s must adhere to as to how rehabilitation services should be utilised during the case management process  and the implementation of a mandatory surveillance which regulates when an insurer can use surveillance.
  • Simplifying the system and promoting procedural fairness by removing the distinction between work capacity decisions and liability decisions and to establish a ‘one stop shop’ forum for resolution of all workers compensation disputes (which includes work capacity decisions).
  • The possibility of allowing up to two assessments for permanent impairment for certain clearly defined injuries that are prone to deteriorate over time, such as spinal injuries.

Whilst this review is a step in the right direction for workers compensation reform, sadly the review fails to address some of the greater failures and complexities of the system since the Liberal NSW Government’s devastating reforms in 2012. The report fails to address the current time limitations imposed on the provision of weekly compensation payments and medical and treatment expenses. At the end of this year, 5000 injured worker’s weekly payments of compensation will be cut off on the basis they have exhausted their entitlement to weekly compensation. There will be no regard to whether those workers are still unable to work because of their injuries. Under the current scheme, in order for injured workers to have an entitlement to receive payments of weekly compensation in excess of five (5) years, they must be assessed as suffering from a 21% or greater level of whole person impairment – a level of impairment which unfortunately most of the population of injured workers won’t reach.

If you have received a notice that your payments of weekly compensation will soon come to an end as a result of the effect of Section 39, please call us today on 13 43 63. As WIRO accredited lawyers we can arrange further assessment to determine your level of impairment and can then advise on whether your rights can be extended.