Fix WorkCover

Fix WorkCover

The Victorian Government is reviewing the Accident Compensation Act. It is unfair to workers and needs to be fixed. Send a message to the parliamentarians about the changes that are needed to improve the workers’ compensation system to make it more fair and effective for injured workers. Go to www.fixworkcover.org then click on ‘Send Letter’, fill in ‘Your Name’ and ‘Your Email’ then click on ‘send email’. We need to tell the politicians what we want; after all they are the ones who make the laws. Tell them to FixWorkCover. The internet will send a message to 74 politicians and it will only take a couple of minutes.

What do we want?

Compensation must be paid for workers with injuries or illnesses arising out of, or in the course of employment. WorkCover should be a NO FAULT system. Workers suffering from stress related injuries/illnesses should not be discriminated against. It should be illegal to threaten, discriminate against or sack anybody for claiming workers’ compensation, assisting another worker to claim or reporting risks.

Improved weekly payments

Weekly payments should start within 7 days of a claim being made (not waiting for 45 days which is what happens now with most claims). This is called ‘provisional payment’. Weekly payments should be based on “normal weekly earnings” that includes piece rates, penalty rates, overtime, allowances, commissions, bonuses, salary packaging and the like. Superannuation should continue to be paid. Weekly payments should be 100% of the NWE for the first 52 weeks and then 80% for 260 weeks if the worker has a capacity for real work that is available.

Rehabilitation - Return to Work

Employers must consult and reach agreement with the injured workers and their treating practitioners on offers of employment suited to the worker. The Act should state that the injured workers have the right to be represented by HSRs, Job Delegates or Union Officials throughout the process. Employers must have to provide pre-injury employment (when the worker is fit to perform them) or suitable employment (if the worker has a capacity to work but is not fit for pre-injury employment) there should not be an arbitrary escape clause.

Dispute Resolution

There should be a simple conciliation and arbitration process for resolving disputes. Currently disputed claims go to Conciliation where they are not resolved unless the employer and claims agent want to. Often they go on to be settled on the steps of the Court because the powers of the Conciliation Officers are so limited. The worker does not get paid for months or years, does not get essential treatment and work relationships break down. If conciliation does not achieve a resolution within a nominated timeframe the conference should become an arbitration hearing. The ACCS Conciliation/Arbitration Officer must be able to affirm, vary or set aside the decision under review and substitute a new decision with written reasons provided.

Permanent Impairment

The AMA Impairment Guides are not the appropriate way of evaluating the impact of permanent injuries. Stress, anxiety and depression that come from having pain, not being able to do the work that you want to or live a normal life should be compensable. Further work needs to be carried out on developing an appropriate method of measuring the pain and suffering from disability and impairment. Until appropriate measures have been developed and agreed on the threshold should be 5% for all injuries including psychiatric illnesses.