Workers compensation changes to slash benefits for injured workers

Injured NSW workers may have to face benefit deductions under the changes recommended by a joint parliament committee yesterday.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the committee’s report recommends calling off of “journey” claims, which means that workers will no longer be covered for injuries while travelling to and from work.

Police officers are exempted from this and will continue to be covered after successfully lobbying the inquiry.

The committee also recommended that medical expenses be capped and for benefits to be cut after a set amount of time. They also recommend removing benefits for nervous shock to the family of workers injured or killed at work.

Minister for Finance & Services, Greg Pearce appointed the parliamentary committee to inquire and report on the financial sustainability of the scheme and to assess the performance of the scheme in the key objectives of promoting better health and return-to-work outcomes.

He also released an issues paper in April which outlined the scheme’s failing compared to its key aims – supporting injured workers through rehabilitation, getting them back to work, and remaining financially sustainable while still being price competitive with other States.

Mr Pearce said that the scheme had a deficit of more than $ 4 billion and would soon be unable to help injured workers get back to work unless changes are done to make it more effective and economically sound.

“The government is determined to provide injured workers the best safety net that we can and to ensure return to work as quickly as possible where a worker is able to return to work,” said Mr Pearce.

“One of our concerns is that premiums in NSW are already 20 to 60 percent higher than our main competitors in Victoria and Queensland.”

In a report by The Australian, Unions NSW secretary Mark Lennon said the recommendations of the committee meant the welfare of injured workers would not be the basic principle of the workers’ compensation system.

“These recommendations overturn the basic principle of our workers’ compensation system, looking after the sick and injured workers and helping them get back to work when they have recovered,” said Mr Lennon.

“These changes will force sick and injured workers back to work before they are ready and further impair their health.”


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