NSW’s worker’s compensation laws have changed; one Sydney MP says the changes haven’t been for the better.
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Caption: Are our workers still protected?
When premier Barry O’Farrell brought in his massive 2012 overhaul of workers’ compensation laws, the intent was to rein in a $4 billion WorkCover deficit.
At the time, New South Wales workers compensation premiums were doubling those in Victoria and it was clear something had to be done.
For O’Farrell, getting WorkCover right represented a significant drive in economic improvement. But two years later, has it all gone wrong?
Here’s what we know so far.
1. Claim complications
Workers’ compensation claims have nearly halved in the Bankstown area since the new laws were introduced in June 2012. Sydney Labor MP Tania Mihailuk believes this falling-off has been due to changes made in the actual claim process rather than less accidents occurring in the workplace.
Some have reported that filing a claim is more difficult now than it has been in the past with overly complicated paperwork, unclear requirements and conflicting laws.
2. The impact.
The 2012 changes to compensation laws involved the scrapping of workcover for employees injured during travel to and from work. There were 860 less claims made in the last two years by residents in Mihailuk’s ecectorate of Bankstown.
There have been ongoing reports of medical benefits and weekly payments for injured workers being reduced or cut off altogether. According to Tania Mihaliuk, where legal fees were previously covered by the law, injured workers must pay their own legal costs whether or not they win the case.
Finance and Services Minister Andrew Constance has refuted these claims and insists the claims process for individuals have not changed as part of the reform.
It’s too early to give O’Farrell a damning assessment of his new compensation laws but judging from personal accounts, work needs to be done.
Do you think workers should be compensated if injured on the commute to and from work?
Money gets saved by a tightening of the belt, but at what cost for our workers?