How have dispute resolution processes changed for workers compensation claims?

Published 19 Dec 2018

Between 2015-2016, there were 104,770 serious workers' compensation claims in NSW, according to Safe Work Australia. While some of these claims were successful, many were not. This is where the dispute resolution comes in.

This service helps rejected claimants challenge a previous decision before it becomes so big that a tribunal or court is required.

However, after a surg of dissatisfied claimants, the state government has finally listened and has endorsed reforms surrounding the dispute resolution process.

But what has changed?

What was wrong with the old system?

Before the reforms came into play, workers filing a claim had to seek several opinions from different organisations in order to assess whether they were eligible to fight a decision. However, this was just the tip of the iceberg.

In a Workers Compensation Independent Review Office discussion paper, many claimants were found to have a low level of overall satisfaction with the current operation. Issues included:

  • Difficulty understanding how the system operated and how to access it.
  • Lacking in relevant support materials.
  • Fighting against insurers who were better equipped with resources.

As a result, those living with physical and psychological injuries were found to be unnecessarily exacerbated by the system's unfair processes.

Thankfully, it seemed the NSW Government sat up and took note of increasing concerns and recently announced changes to the dispute resolution process for workers' compensation claims.

How has the dispute resolution process changed?

In a press release, Minister for Finance, Services and Property Victor Dominello said the new laws will deliver a significant improvement to the existing system.

"We acknowledge that the current scheme is unnecessarily complex and needs to be simplified to make it easier for injured workers to navigate in their time of need."

Some of the key changes include:

  • Instead of having multiple channels to go through, the process plans to establish the Workers Compensation Commission as a 'one-stop-shop' to deal with all disputes.
  • Simplifying the calculation process of determining pre-injury earnings. As one of the most common topics of disputes, this should make it more transparent for people filing claims, as well as being simpler for insurers to process them.
  • Removing the mandatory insurer internal review for work capacity decisions.

While the changes were passed in October 2018, injured workers will only reap the benefits by early 2019. However, if you're living with physical or psychological injuries that you've sustained as a result of negligent behaviour in the workplace, help is still at hand. If you're looking to submit a claim for compensation, get in touch with the team at Gerard Malouf & Partners today to see how we can help.