The Legislative Council passed a bill to modernise workers’ compensation laws in Western Australia. The new bill was to rewrite the existing Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Act 1981. The aim was to provide clarity and insert some key changes as promised by the current state government.
The draft Act was released for public consultation in 2021 and you can find the 40-odd submissions sent in on the WorkCover website.
The Workers Compensation and Injury Management Act 2023 was assented to by the Governor on 24 October 2023 but as it relies heavily on the rules and regulations that haven’t been finalised yet so it is not expected to commence operation until 1 July 2024. This is a repeal and replace Act, the old Act is gone and this new Act will take its place.
Some Key Changes:
The limit for medical/statutory expenses has been doubled to 60% of the prescribed amount.
Weekly Compensation Liability Notices
The Act requires insurers and self-insurers to provide liability notices within 14 days, if they do not they “will be deemed to have accepted that the employer is liable to compensate the worker and payments of compensation must be made”.
Calculation of Worker’s Weekly Rate of Income
If the worker has been employed for over a year, the weekly rate of income will be calculated over one year prior to the date of injury (incapacity) ending on the day before the injury occurred whereas previously it was done over the 13 weeks prior to the date of injury (incapacity). If the worker has been employed in that position for less than one year, the weekly rate of income is now calculated from the start of their employment to the day before the injury occurred.
Exclusion of Injury for Reasonable Administrative Action
An amendment aims to expand on the exclusionary provisions that prevent workers from claiming compensation for psychological injury. The Bill now excludes any psychological injury caused by “administrative action” taken by an employer. This can include an appraisal of the worker’s performance, suspension & disciplinary action for example.
Catastrophic Workplace Injuries
Workers catastrophically injured in workplace accidents are now covered under the Catastrophic Injuries Support Scheme (CISS). This is similar to individuals catastrophically injured in motor vehicle accidents. Catastrophic injuries include spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, amputations, severe burns and permanent blindness.
Dust Diseases Workers’ Compensation
Some dust diseases are now covered under a presumption of work injury. It’s the employer who has to prove the ‘disease’ was not caused in the course of the employment.
Modernised Workers Compensation Laws for WA
Though some changes to the Workers’ Compensation Act may seem small, they can have a large impact on the way the Act is interpreted by the Courts. These changes will affect a majority of work injury cases going forward. It’s important for both employees and currently injured workers to understand how this new Act will affect their rights to compensation in the future.
Anvil Legal’s workers’ compensation lawyers can help you navigate the nuances of these new changes specific to your work injury. Contact us today to have your claim reviewed by a qualified and well-experienced lawyer.