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Have your say: COVID-19 Workers Compensation Standard of Practice consultation

The State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) is now consulting on a new COVID-19 Standard of Practice. This Standard of Practice outlines expectations for insurer claims administration and conduct.

The COVID-19 related Standard of Practice will set expectations for insurers about the handling of COVID-19 workers compensation claims and claims handling practices during the period of the pandemic.

The Standard of practice is being designed to expedite certain claims management decisions, reduce barriers and support workers through their recovery and return to work.

You can provide feedback on the consultation draft Standard of practice by forwarding your comments by 5pm, Monday, 18 May 2020.

Visit the SIRA consultation page to review the draft Standard of Practice and to submit your feedback.

Guidance for referring medicolegal examinations during the COVID-19 pandemic

SIRA is issuing this guidance to insurers and worker’s legal representatives who are considering making referrals for medicolegal examinations during the current COVID-19 pandemic. We gained some insights from a survey we conducted recently, and they have informed parts of this guidance.

When considering whether it is appropriate to refer an injured person for a medicolegal examination, SIRA expects that the referrer assesses each matter on a case-by-case basis. In addition to making any necessary procedural modifications as a result of the pandemic, referrers should prioritise matters to determine their appropriateness for referral, considering the following:

  1. The urgency of the matter, including any potential impact of delay on the injured person
  2. The method of assessment most appropriate to resolve the matter, including options such as video examination, providing that the examination method complies with the relevant Regulations, Guidelines and Fees Orders.
  3. How to avoid or minimise any risks to the safety, health, and wellbeing of the injured person and health practitioner where an ‘in person’ examination is deemed necessary, and
  4. In light of the above, whether the examination can be postponed until a later date, also noting any potential impact of delay on the injured person.

More detailed explanation is available on the SIRA website.

Supporting employers with Return to Work programs for injured people

We recognise that COVID-19 is having a significant impact on businesses and employment arrangements and we are working closely with all relevant NSW Government agencies and employer associations to support employers respond to the current situation and prepare for business, post COVID-19.

As a result, SIRA has recently launched two new funded programs giving employers financial incentives for helping injured workers or those injured on the road to continue their recovery at work.  These new programs enable them to acquire experience or skills as a step towards gaining new employment and in addition to existing SIRA funded programs.

  • JobCover6 (new) program provides an incentive payment of up to $400 per week (or the wages paid to the worker, whichever is less) is available to an employer who can provide an injured worker with a short-term work opportunity. The incentive payments can be up to a maximum of 26 weeks ($10,400).
  • Connect2Work (new) program provides a $200 weekly payment (for up to 12 weeks) to employers who can provide work placement for at least 15 hours per week to a worker.
  • Recover at work (existing) program helps small employers overcome financial hardship when providing suitable work to help their worker recover at work after a work-related injury or illness.

Detailed information is available on the SIRA website:

Training videos for certain allied health professionals issuing certificate of capacity/fitness

SIRA has released training videos to help stakeholders, treating physiotherapists and psychologists understand their obligation in certifying capacity or fitness for work.

Treating physiotherapists and psychologists can now issue second and subsequent certificates of capacity/fitness as a result of amendments to the Workers Compensation Regulation 2016 and Motor Accident Guidelines. A general practitioner must continue to issue the initial Certificate of capacity/fitness.

The changes were introduced to relieve the pressure on medical practitioners and the healthcare system during the COVID-19 pandemic and will be in place for 12 months, unless repealed earlier. Watch the videos.

SIRA updates general practitioners on its response to COVID-19

SIRA discussed recent COVID-19 related amendments relevant to general practitioners in a recent Practice That podcast by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) NSW&ACT.

This podcast discusses how SIRA is responding to feedback from general practitioners. We have removed the requirement for insurer pre-approval for most telehealth consultations for workers compensation patients.

Have your say (closing soon): Motor Accidents Compensation Regulation 2020 and Regulatory Impact Statement

We are seeking comments on the proposed Motor Accidents Compensation Regulation 2020 and Regulatory Impact Statement.

The Motor Accidents Compensation Regulation 2020 (the proposed Regulation) repeals and remakes the Motor Accidents Compensation Regulation 2015, which is due for automatic repeal on 1 September 2020. The object of the proposed Regulation is to support the operation of the Motor Accidents Compensation Act 1999 and the 1999 Compulsory Third-Party insurance scheme.

Consultation closes on Monday, 11 May 2020.

COVID-19 related SIRA resources