Alert: Return to Work and Employment Tribunal Bills passed by Parliament

The State Government’s plan to enact a new workers compensation scheme is all but in place after the Return to Work Bill 2014 yesterday passed through the Legislative Council.

Minister Rau intends this to be a “comprehensive root and branch restructure” of the WorkCover system, with financial compensation no longer the primary objective and a new focus placed on early intervention and improving return-to-work outcomes.

Some of the most notable changes include:

  • Increased eligibility thresholds, including for claims for psychiatric injury
  • Lump sum payments available for economic and non-economic loss
  • Stronger obligations will be placed on employers in returning workers to suitable employment
  • Creation of a new category of seriously injured worker (with a Whole Person Impairment of 30% or greater) who will be afforded greater protections
  • Payments of income maintenance will cease after 2 years for all but seriously injured workers
  • Seriously injured workers may elect to bring a common law claim against their employer.
  • The Government believes these changes will result in significantly improved WorkCover premium rates for employers and better return-to-work outcomes for injured workers.

In addition, the Employment Tribunal Bill was passed by the Legislative Council yesterday. This creates a new Tribunal and will make significant changes to the way disputes about workers compensation entitlements are managed and resolved.

The Bills are likely to come into effect on 1 July 2015.

DW Fox Tucker will be running presentations on the new Bills in due course which will address action which should be taken by employers and compensating authorities before the new legislation comes into effect.  In the interim, please contact us with any questions and we will be happy to answer them for you.

A more detailed analysis of the Return to Work Bill and the Employment Tribunal Bill will follow.

For more information, please contact:
John Walsh

John Walsh
Director
p.  +61 8 8124 1951
e.  Email me


Director

Patrick Walsh

Patrick Walsh
Director
p.  +61 8 8124 1941
e.  Email me

This communication provides general information which is current as at the time of production. The information contained in this communication does not constitute advice and should not be relied upon as such. Professional advice should be sought prior to any action being taken in reliance on any of the information. Should you wish to discuss any matter raised in this report, or what it means for you, your business or your clients' businesses, please feel free to contact us.

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