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JobCover placement program guidance material

Introduction

Research shows that work promotes recovery and reduces the risk of long term disability and work loss. The focus of the NSW workers compensation system is supporting workers to recover at, or return to work following a work related injury.

Section 53 of the Workplace Injury Management and Workers Compensation Act 1998 (1998 Act) allows the State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) to develop, administer and coordinate vocational rehabilitation schemes for workers.

The JobCover placement program provides incentives to employers to employ a worker who has a work related injury and is unable to return to work with their pre-injury employer. The worker is employed in accordance with industrial relations procedures and work health safety legislation. The program is designed to offset the cost of engaging a worker with an existing injury.

Program benefits

The JobCover placement program provides the new employer with:

  • incentive payments of up to $27,400 for up to 12 months
  • exemption of the worker's wages from their workers compensation premium calculation for two years
  • protection against the costs of changes to the worker’s existing injury for up to two years.

The program benefits can be used individually, as a combination, or as a total package to meet the needs of the employer and worker.

Employer incentive payment

The employer incentive payment is designed to offset the costs associated with engaging and training a new worker. The payment is payable over the first 52 weeks of work up to a maximum amount of $27,400.

The maximum amount payable is:

  • $400 per week for weeks 1 to 12 (maximum of $4,800)
  • $500 per week for weeks 13 to 26 (maximum $7,000)
  • $600 per week for weeks 27 to 52 (maximum $15,600).

The employer incentive payment is claimed by the employer at the end of 12, 26 and 52 weeks.

Payments are calculated on a weekly basis. The amount paid will be either the gross weekly wage paid* to the worker, or the weekly maximum amount as set out above should the gross wage exceed the weekly incentive payment amount.

* Does not include superannuation and allowances.

Wage exemption from premium calculation

Workers compensation insurance premiums are based on a number of factors, including the amount of wages an employer pays to their workers.

The program’s wage exemption benefit provides protection to the new employer from an increase to their premium as a result of wages paid to the worker. This means the worker’s wages are not included in the new employer’s workers compensation premium calculations for two years (i.e. two policy periods).

Protection from costs associated with the existing injury

We recognise new employers may be concerned about the financial impact a worker’s existing injury may have on their business should the worker’s existing injury be affected while carrying out their new work duties. This may be offset by a workplace assessment – refer to ‘Suitability of the role’ below.

A new employer is exempt from the costs of changes occurring to the worker’s existing injury during the first two years of their employment.

Note: This exemption does not apply if, for example, the employer engages a worker with a shoulder injury and they later sustain a knee injury – the new employer is liable for the costs of the knee claim (the new injury), and the costs would be included in their next premium calculation.

Eligibility

A worker is eligible if:

  • at the time of program commencement, they are receiving, or are entitled to receive, weekly payments under the Workers Compensation Act 1987 (1987 Act)
  • they are unable to return to work with their pre-injury employer
  • a commutation or work injury damages settlement has not been accepted.

An employer may be eligible if they:

  • are a different employer to the pre-injury employer
  • hold a current workers compensation policy with an insurer or a self-insurer’s licence
  • are not grouped with the pre-injury employer for workers compensation insurance or insured under the same group self-insurer licence as the pre-injury employer
  • provide a minimum of 64 paid hours per month or a return to pre-injury hours  (fewer hours may be considered if it can be demonstrated that the worker will progress to meet this requirement within a reasonable timeframe)
  • have offered employment for a minimum of 12 months
  • the employer is not in receipt of any other wage subsidy for the worker
  • can demonstrate adherence to their jurisdiction’s workers compensation and workplace health and safety legislation.

Note: A Commonwealth or interstate employer is eligible for the program however they are not eligible for the premium exemption due to the different insurance arrangements between Australian jurisdictions.

Dual employment

If a worker is injured when working with more than one employer, the employer that is not associated with the workers compensation claim may be eligible to utilise the program if they can offer additional hours of work and meet eligibility requirements.

Concurrent programs

If a worker obtains employment with two employers at the same time, the program can only be offered to one employer.

If an employer seeks to utilise the program for more than one worker at the same time there must be evidence work will be ongoing for the workers involved.

Change of employer

The benefits of the program are not transferable between employers. However, if employment ceases and the worker remains eligible for the program, the program may be offered to a new employer.

Preparing for the JobCover placement program

If it is decided that a JobCover placement program would help support a worker to gain work with a new employer, the insurer should confirm the worker’s eligibility for the program by including it in the worker’s injury management plan (IMP). The insurer is responsible for notifying the worker and workplace rehabilitation provider (provider) if eligibility for the program changes.

For some workers, it may be suitable to use a work trial prior to commencement of the JobCover placement program - refer to the Work trial guidance material for more information.

If immediate or short-term barriers prevent the worker from starting work, they should talk to their insurer about their eligibility for new employment assistance (under section 64B of the 1987 Act) and/or the SIRA transition to work program.

Note: The insurer or workplace rehabilitation provider (if involved) should ensure the job-seeking worker can explain the JobCover placement program benefits and eligibility criteria to a potential employer.

Suitability of the role

In some circumstances, a provider will conduct a workplace assessment to match the capacity of the worker to the essential job requirements, and assess the worker’s ability to perform the tasks safely.

Where specific equipment or workplace modifications are required this should be discussed with the insurer. Where eligible, the worker may access new employment assistance (under section 64B of the 1987 Act) and/or the SIRA equipment and workplace modification program.

Where specific skills, certification, or licences are required for the role, the worker should discuss their eligibility for new education and training assistance (under section 64C of the 1987 Act) and/or the SIRA training program with the insurer.

Suitability of the employer

Conflict of interest

An employer may not be eligible for the program if a professional or personal relationship between the proposed new employer and the worker is likely to give rise to a conflict of interest. This is particularly important where the new employer has a provider-client relationship or is a member of the worker’s family.

If a potential conflict of interest is identified, the provider will assess suitability for the JobCover Placement Program and discuss this with the insurer. The person completing the agreement form should outline why the program should proceed as well as the strategies that will be implemented to address the conflict of interest.

Types of employment

The JobCover placement program is designed to secure durable employment for the worker that continues beyond the 12 months of employer incentive payments. A variety of employment arrangements are considered suitable. These include:

  • full or part-time work
  • casual, labour hire or contract arrangements where the work is ongoing, and where there is a formal agreement with the employer
  • temporary, where there is a fixed-term agreement greater than 12 months.

The following employment arrangements are not considered suitable under the program:

  • seasonal work
  • temporary, where there is no fixed-term agreement or the agreement is less than 12 months
  • establishment of a small business or other self-employment arrangement.

Confirmation should be obtained in writing from the new employer (eg a letter of offer of employment or contract).

Confirming agreement

When the worker and new employer’s eligibility is confirmed, a JobCover placement program – agreement should be completed and signed by the worker, new employer and the insurer before the worker commences employment.

The person responsible for completing the agreement form should ensure all parties:

  • understand the program benefits being used
  • agree to their roles and responsibilities
  • have completed and signed the form
  • receive a copy of the signed agreement form and a copy of this guidance material.

The insurer must sign the agreement before the worker starts work to ensure:

  • access to the selected program benefits, and
  • all parties are aware of their obligations.

There is a risk that the employer may not receive the expected program benefits if the insurer has not confirmed that all requirements have been met before the worker starts work.

Note: Use the JobCover program checklist to ensure all requirements outlined in this guidance material have been considered.

Accessing the incentive payment

The employer incentive payment is claimed by (and paid directly to) the new employer as a lump sum at the end of 12, 26 and 52 weeks.

The new employer must:

  • complete a JobCover placement program – employer incentive payment claim form
  • attach a copy of the signed JobCover placement program - agreement as well as evidence of the worker’s weekly gross wage for each week in the employment period being claimed
  • submit the payment claim no more than 12 weeks from the last day of each employment period
  • only claim for wages paid to the worker, this includes paid annual/recreational/sick leave
  • not claim any other employer incentive payment for the worker from another agency (eg another labour market wage subsidy program or any other employer incentive payment programs).

The employer should submit the documents to:

  • the insurer who signed the agreement form where the pre-injury employer’s insurer is a Nominal Insurer scheme agent, or
  • SIRA at vocprograms@sira.nsw.gov.au where the pre-injury employer’s insurer is a self-insurer, specialised insurer1 or a SICorp insurance agent2.

Note: An employer cannot claim for payments made to the worker when the worker is absent from work and in receipt of weekly workers compensation payments.

If employment arrangements change and a worker is no longer employed before the completion of the 52 weeks, the incentive payable will be calculated on the number of weeks that the worker has been employed. For example, if a worker is employed for 22 weeks, the maximum incentive payable to the employer would be $400 per week for the first 12 weeks and $500 per week for the next 10 weeks.

Accessing wage exemption from premium calculation

This benefit is accessed when the employer declares wages at the end of their workers compensation policy period.

The worker's wages are exempt from the employer’s workers compensation premium calculation for a period of two years. The employer is not required to include the worker’s wages in the wages declaration to the insurer.

The employer should retain a copy of the completed JobCover placement program – agreement and wage records for every worker they engage under the program as evidence that the program has been used. The employer should contact their insurer for further information regarding premium calculation.

Change in circumstances

If there is a significant change in circumstance that may affect eligibility for the program (for example, the worker resigns from the job or the employer ceases trading), the pre-injury employer’s insurer must be notified within seven days of becoming aware of the change.

Where a worker’s weekly payments cease after the program commences, the program may continue and the employer will still be eligible for all of the agreed benefits.

If ongoing claim liability is disputed following program commencement, or the worker accepts a commutation or work injury damages settlement, the insurer must advise SIRA immediately. If this occurs, it is up to SIRA to decide whether to continue to make incentive payments to the employer.

Appeal process

If there is disagreement about eligibility or use of the JobCover program, the worker and/or employer should try to resolve the matter with the insurer in the first instance.

If the problem cannot be resolved, contact SIRA on 13 10 50 or email contact@sira.nsw.gov.au.

Where a JobCover placement program - agreement has been submitted to the insurer and they have not signed the agreement, the worker can request an internal review by the insurer.

If agreement has not been obtained following an internal insurer review, an appeal can be lodged with SIRA by writing to: Director, Claimant Outcomes, State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA), Locked Bag 2906, Lisarow NSW 2250 or vocprograms@sira.nsw.gov.au.

The appeal must outline the reasons a review is requested and provide information/evidence to support the request. SIRA may ask for additional information from the worker, person submitting the appeal and/or the insurer.

SIRA will notify the worker and the insurer of the outcome of the appeal within 10 working days of receiving all necessary supporting information.

Further information

The following resources are available for SIRA vocational rehabilitation programs:

Related legislation

References

  1. Self-insurers are employers approved by SIRA to manage their own workers compensation claims. Specialised insurers hold a restricted licence to provide workers compensation insurance for a specific industry or class of business or employers.
  2. SICorp provides workers compensation insurance to most public sector employers except those who are self-insurers. SICorp contracts insurance agents to manage policies and claims on its behalf.