It is estimated that half of the 28,000 workers who currently receive benefits and medical expenses under the workers’ compensation scheme will be cut from the scheme. The rest will face a drastic reduction in their benefits.
Bruce McManamey, speaking for the Australian Lawyers Alliance told the Sun-Herald: “It’s the kind of stuff that will result in injured workers losing their homes.”
Currently, injured workers receive 100% of their ordinary pay for the first 26 weeks off work. Under the new reforms the most a worker could collect is 90%. After 13 weeks that would fall to 80%, before dropping to the statutory rate of $432 per week.
This latest attack on another workers’ entitlement in NSW follows hard on the heels of a raft of anti-worker laws that have been introduced without notice or consultation.
Barry O’Farrell told a business audience in March of his determination to attack WorkCover.
“Getting WorkCover right – and competitive – represents one of the most significant drivers of economic improvement within our control in NSW,” he told the NSW Business Chamber.
Unions NSW says any problems with the scheme can be fixed without having a negative impact on the income of injured workers.
“A number of changes can be made to the scheme to improve the way it operates, improves outcomes for workers and reduce the size of future liabilities,” it said in a submission to the government.
“Instead of cutting benefits to badly injured workers, WorkCover should be implementing aggressive prevention strategies to avoid the catastrophic effects of a failure to provide a safe working environment.
“There can be no doubt that if more injuries were prevented, this would limit the increase in future liabilities for the scheme.”
Unions NSW recommends there be more inspectors and workplace visits and more prosecutions of unsafe employers.
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