WCC e-Bulletin No 49 - September 2012
A summary of recent Legislative amendments
Below is a brief overview of the changes made to the NSW Workers Compensation legislation.
- Cost amendments –Not yet proclaimed. It is unclear what the effect of these changes will be once proclaimed.
- Disease claims – The definition of injury now requires employment to be the main contributing factor.
- One assessment only for the purposes of lump sum compensation, commutation of liability or claim for work injury damages.
- There is no longer provision for pain and suffering.
- Claimants are now required to have a WPI of greater than 10% WPI in order to make a claim.
- Journey claims are no longer allowed unless there is a “real and substantial connection” between employment and the injury.
- No longer compensation for claims for heart attack or stroke unless the nature of employment gave rise to significantly greater risk.
- Commutations available under certain circumstances.
- Work capability assessments to be undertaken by claims officers – no longer the jurisdiction of the NSW Workers Compensation Commission.
More details on the changes can be obtained from the WorkCover Authority website at: http://www.workcover.nsw.gov.au/aboutus/newsroom/Pages/WorkersCompensationIssuesPaper.aspx
Increase in Commission lodgements and resulting processing delays
Since the announcement of amendments to the Workers Compensation legislation in late June 2012, the Commission has experienced a considerable increase in the volume of lodgements received compared to the same period last year.
Prior to the legislative amendments the Commission received a long term average of approximately 780 applications per month. However, since late June 2012, the commission has received in excess of 3,000 applications.
Teleconference listing times prior to the legislative changes were at approximately 8 weeks. At present, the listing time for a teleconference has increased to approximately 14 weeks.
More recently there has been a slow down in the number of applications being lodged. Our processing of new applications is now up to date. We thank you for your patience while we manage the increase in workload.
Due to the large volume of applications registered over the past couple of months, the Commission is now listing teleconferences in the first week of December. As is our usual practice, we are planning to have a brief shut-down over the Christmas/New Year period (Thursday, 20 December 2012 to Tuesday, 8 January 2013 inclusive) where no teleconferences will be listed. A revised timetable relating to applications lodged during this period will be issued later in the year.
Question of Law – disputes over when a claim is made and the transitional provisions
On 19 June 2012, amendments relating to sections 66 and 67 of the Workers Compensation Act 1987 came into effect. The Commission has now received a large number of disputes concerning whether the new provisions apply to section 66 claims made after 19 June, where a previous claim had been made for a different type of compensation but relating to the same injurious event. One of these matters has been identified as a potential test case and has been referred to the President as a Question of Law. The WorkCover Authority is seeking to intervene in the proceedings also.
Until a Presidential decision is issued on this point, disputes relating to this issue may be held in abeyance. Teleconferences already listed will proceed as scheduled and the Arbitrator will inform the parties of the proposed means of managing the dispute.
Judge Greg Keating