The O’Farrell government plans to make significant cuts to workers compensation which would result in a slashing of lump-sum payments for injured workers and eliminating weekly benefits for long-term recipients from the scheme after a specified time. Workplace lawyers have cited concerns that the changes would designate NSW into “the meanest system in the country”
The government has stated in the past that it intends to re-evaluate the $13 billion WorkCover scheme which encompasses a deficit of approximately $5 billion. An announcement regarding these changes is expected by Tuesday.
Various lawyers and union representatives are concerned that 50% of the 28,000 workers who receive benefits and medical expenses; will be abandoned because of the proposed changes to the scheme.
Barrister Bruce McManamey stated his concern that the coming changes may result in injured workers losing their homes.
Currently, injured workers receive their normal, full salary for the first 26 weeks off work. A scaffolder without children or a partner would receive $1100-1500 a week for the 26-weeks. If the worker is off for longer the payout would drop to $432 a week.The proposed changes would make it so that an injured worker could receive only 90 per cent of their salary, but not exceeding that amount.
Some Lawyers have alleged that the cuts to WorkCover are to ensure that NSW does not lose its AAA credit rating.
More information on Occupational Health and Safety