Workers compensation regulation

Published: 12 August 2019
Last edited: 12 August 2019

Workers compensation legislation

In NSW, the workers compensation system is established by the following legislation:

The legislation provides different benefit levels depending on a number of factors which may include the worker’s period of incapacity, the date of their injury/illness, the date their workers compensation claim was lodged, and level of permanent impairment.

The two Acts and the Regulation should be read together.

The provisions of the former Workers’ Compensation Act 1926 (1926 Act) which was repealed and replaced with the 1987 Act, cover most injuries incurred before 30 June 1987.

Legislative amendments have made changes to the legislation on a number of occasions, with significant changes made as a result of the Workers Compensation Legislation Amendment Act 2012.

The workers compensation legislation and related instruments are listed at Legislation and regulatory instruments.

Exempt workers

The Workers Compensation Legislation Amendment Act 2012 (2012 Amendments) changed the workers compensation laws. The 2012 Amendments, and the majority of further amendments made to the legislation in 2015, do not apply to:

  • police officers
  • paramedics
  • fire fighters.

These workers were exempted from changes because of clause 25 of Part 19H of Schedule 6 to the 1987 Act. This group of workers is known as ‘exempt categories of workers’ or ‘exempt workers’.

As a result, some of the requirements in the workers compensation scheme are different for these workers, namely in reference to:

  • weekly payments
  • journey claims
  • reducing or discontinuing weekly payments
  • medical, hospital and rehabilitation expenses
  • lump sum compensation for permanent impairment
  • disputes
  • worker legal representation.

Where the content in the claims management guide is different for exempt workers, it is clearly marked.

Other legislation

Other workers compensation legislation may also apply to certain workers or injuries.

Coal Mines Insurance

Coal Mines Insurance is a specialised workers compensation scheme for the NSW coal industry established under the Coal Industry Act 2001. Workers in the NSW coal industry are not subject to changes introduced by the 2001 amendments. As a result, the NSW coal industry is subject to the previous legislative provisions of the 1926 Act, the 1987 Act and the 1998 Act.

Dust diseases

The Dust Diseases Authority of NSW was established by the Workers’ Compensation (Dust Diseases) Act 1942. It provides compensation to workers who sustain certain dust diseases (listed in Schedule 1) due to exposure to the inhalation of dust in an occupation to the nature of which the disease was due. Compensation is also payable to dependants of a worker who dies from a dust disease. icare manages claims for dust disease compensation in NSW.

Dust diseases that are not in Schedule 1 to the Workers' Compensation (Dust Diseases) Act 1942 are managed under the 1987 and 1998 Acts.

Volunteer firefighters and other emergency service volunteers

The Workers Compensation (Bush Fire, Emergency and Rescue Services) Act 1987 extends some workers compensation provisions to volunteer firefighters, emergency service volunteers and surf lifesaver volunteers even though they are not employees of the fire or emergency service for which they volunteer.

Sporting injuries

The NSW Sporting Injuries Insurance Scheme provides cover for serious injuries and death for registered players or officials of a sporting organisation that is a member of the Sporting Injuries Insurance Scheme.

Cover is provided under the Sporting Injuries Insurance Act 1978. The scheme also covers all children in NSW schools (government and private) who are seriously injured in an authorised school sporting activity.

icare manages claims under the Sporting Injuries Insurance Scheme.

The State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA)

SIRA is a statutory body and NSW Government agency. Established in 2015 under the State Insurance and Care Governance Act 2015, SIRA regulates workers compensation insurance and related activities, motor accidents compulsory third party (CTP) insurance and home building compensation insurance in NSW.

SIRA’s mission is to undertake effective regulation and system-wide stewardship so that our insurance systems are:

  • equitable and perceived as fair
  • delivered as efficiently as they can be
  • affordable for the community
  • sustainable and viable for generations to come
  • effective in delivering scheme outcomes
  • providing positive experiences.

SIRA focuses on service delivery to injured people, affordability, and the effective management and sustainability of these insurance schemes. Learn more on the SIRA website.