The scheme is currently in surplus, and on 4 August 2015 the NSW Government announced a $1 billion reform package to include better benefits for injured workers, reductions on premiums for employers with good safety and return to work records and three new regulatory organisations.
The new package offers better support for injured workers and includes:
- An increase of the medical benefits cap to two years for injured workers with a whole person impairment (WPI) of up to 10% and five years for those with an 11-20% WPI. Workers who have a WPI over 20% will receive lifelong medical benefits (which were only previously available to those with a WPI greater than 30%);
- The minimum weekly payment for workers with over 30% WPI will increase to $788.32 per week and will be indexed twice a year;
- Those with a WPI of 21% or greater and who have some work capacity will no longer be required to work 15 hours per week to get weekly payments after 2.5 years;
- Artificial aids such as prostheses, crutches and hearing aids, as well as home and vehicle modifications will be extended to cover a worker from ‘retirement age’ to ‘life’, regardless of the level of impairment;
- The lump sum death benefit will increase from $524,000 to $750,000 which will be indexed twice a year and maximum funeral expenses will increase from $9,000 to $15,000;
- A one off payment of up to $1000 for injured workers who secure work with a new employer to assist with return to work expenses such as tools and uniforms;
- Up to $8,000 to assist with retraining and education, where workers with more than 20% WPI have been receiving benefits for more than 18 months;
- Workers who made their claim after 1 October 2012 will be entitled to:
- Secondary surgical procedures so long as that surgery relates to the body part previously operated on and is approved within two years of the first surgical approval;
- No changes to payments (such as reducing or ceasing) whilst a worker’s request for a review of a work capacity decision is being dealt with; and
- Receive weekly payments for up to 12 months after reaching retirement age.
Employers who have a record of having a safe workplace and helping their injured employees return to work will be rewarded with a 5-20% discount on insurance premiums.
Where to from here?:
The Bills have been passed by Parliament and benefits will commence from dates which are yet to be proclaimed.
The following benefits will commence on a date proclaimed by the Government and will be retrospectively applied. Workers who are no longer receiving benefits will be able to make claims for these:
- Lifetime medical benefits for high needs injured workers (those over 20%);
- Aids and modifications;
- Weekly payments for retiring age workers;
- Secondary surgery; and
- Weekly payments while a work capacity decision is being reviewed.
Lump sum payments and death benefit increases will be backdated from the date to be proclaimed by the Government to 5 August 2015.
The following will commence on a date yet to be proclaimed by the Government:
- The removal of the requirement for minimum work hours for workers over 20% WPI with some work capacity and will be retrospectively applied from 2012. Back payments and reimbursements will apply from the date when the worker was deemed an injured worker with a WPI greater than 20%. The same applies to the minimum weekly payment for workers with the highest needs (greater than 30% WPI);
- The education and retraining assistance and return to work assistance which existing injured workers will be entitled to receive but only after the commencement of the provision; and
- The extension of medical benefits to two and five years (as applicable) and all injured workers currently receiving medical benefits will be extended accordingly.
We will keep you updated with the changes as they are implemented.