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Workers compensation dispute resolution reforms

An improved dispute resolution system will benefit injured workers, employers and insurers by early 2019.

The Workers Compensation Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 was passed by the NSW Parliament on 17 October 2018. The new laws seek to improve the experience of everyone who uses the workers compensation system.

The package of improvements is designed to prevent disputes by making the system simpler, clearer and more consistent.

The amendments aim to:

Prevent disputes

  • Simplified calculations of pre-injury earnings to make it fairer for injured workers and easier for insurers to process their claims.
  • A simple pathway for enquiries and complaints:

A simple pathway for enquiries and complaints

Improve dispute processes

  • Reduced confusion for injured workers who have a dispute with their insurer – workers will be able to go directly to the Workers Compensation Commission for all disputes, including those involving work capacity, medical and liability decisions.
  • Single decision notices from insurers, that more clearly outline the decision and the reasons for making that decision.
  • Permanent impairment compensation can be awarded without an Approved Medical Specialist, in some circumstances.

Improve regulation

  • More flexibility for workplaces in how they display information about workers compensation and return to work programs.
  • Enhanced governance of SIRA’s activities by expanding the SIRA board from three to five members.
  • Increased ability to gather and share information on workers compensation to improve oversight of the sector.

The amendments also introduce fairer insurance provisions for workers who are injured in a motor vehicle while working, by addressing legislative inconsistencies between the Motor Accident Injuries Act 2017 and the Workers Compensation Act 1987.

Consultation and implementation

SIRA will continue to provide updates on the implementation of these changes and to consult widely with stakeholders on the development of supporting regulations and guidelines.

On Thursday 1 November 2018, more than 120 people attended the SIRA stakeholder forum in Sydney to hear about and share their thoughts on the implementation phase of the Workers Compensation Legislation Amendment Act 2018.

Watch the video recording or view the PowerPoint presentation from the forum.

You can register to receive updates on these reforms and information about upcoming consultation activities by sending an email to disputereforms@sira.nsw.gov.au.

Background

The amendments follow extensive consultation with key stakeholders, including industry representatives and the public. You can read further background on the reforms, including the consultation discussion paper and public submissions, on the consultation site.

Proposed firefighters amendment

On 24 October 2018, the NSW Government introduced the Workers Compensation Legislation Amendment (Firefighters) Bill 2018 into Parliament, which seeks to make it easier for NSW firefighters diagnosed with certain cancers to claim workers compensation entitlements.

If passed by Parliament, the amendments will enable eligible firefighters diagnosed with one of 12 specified cancers, and who meet applicable employment periods, to automatically be presumed to have acquired that cancer because of their firefighting work.

As announced by the Government on 27 September 2018, the presumption will apply to all eligible firefighters with cancers diagnosed on or after 27 September 2018. A firefighter who has previously had a claim denied regarding one of the specified cancers on the basis that the firefighter was unable to prove a link to employment may also bring a new claim under the presumption legislation.

You can view this Bill and follow its progress on the Parliament of NSW website.

Read the media release.