Workers comp backdown – still more to be done!

The State Government’s backdown on unfair changes to workers’ compensation does not go far enough and should be expanded to include all medical costs as well as restoring full cover for injuries suffered on the way to and from work, according to Unions NSW.

The Government has recognised that it went too far when it attacked the rights of sick and injured workers a little over two years ago, announcing that some benefits would be restored for some injured workers including amputees and those with hearing loss.

Unions NSW Secretary, Mark Lennon said that the Government had now explicitly recognised the unfairness of the changes and should move to fully restore all benefits.

“We have been campaigning against these changes since they were introduced, so it’s heartening to see this limited back down from the Government. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go nearly far enough,” Mr Lennon said.

“We said all along that the Government was scaremongering about the Workcover deficit and it turns out we were correct.

“Today’s announcement only includes limited reintroduction of benefits for the most seriously injured.. As anyone familiar with workers compensation know, there are many, many more people suffering from injury or illness sustained at work who need assistance.

“It remains the case that the Government is still putting the needs of employer and insurers ahead of sick and injured workers. Our campaign will continue right up until the State election.”

In much the same way as the Howard Government rolled back WorkChoices slightly before the 2007 election, the NSW Government announced the following rollbacks, with a state election due next March.

  • Access to hearing aids, prosthesis and domestic care/modifications until retirement age (prior to 2012 this was until no longer needed)
  • Reducing the access threshold to ongoing medical benefits to 21% (previously this did not require a threshold)
  • Providing up to 12 months weekly expenses for workers injured post retirement age (this still has a cap on medical expenses for 12 months after the weekly expenses finish – this was provided until no longer needed previously)
  • Clearing up the work capacity process partly by requiring the insurer to continue to pay the injured worker until appeal rights are terminated (this is removing the ridiculous problem of WorkCover’s making, whereby the WorkCover Authority has been taking up to 6 months to review work capacity decisions whilst a worker is cut off from workers compensation and often Centrelink)
  • “Clarifying” the entitlement for a second surgery outside the time limit imposed by the 12 month cap imposed in June 2012.

Congratulations to all unions and the Injured Workers Support Network for maintaining pressure on the NSW Government to repeal their changes.

The government announcement.

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