On Tuesday night (June 19), the NSW government’s lower house passed new workers compensation laws for the region – a move that has been met by both support and opposition.
While this result is not definitive – the legislation still needs to go through the state’s upper house – it does look like the WorkCover reforms will make it through parliament.
NSW minister for finance and services Greg Pearce explained the reasons behind the reforms, citing expense as being the major driver.
“The workers’ compensation scheme has been costing the state up to $9 million a day and it’s time to put the plan for recovery into action,” he asserted in an official WorkCover statement on June 19.
“Its $4 billion deficit is spiralling out of control and we simply cannot afford to wait around.”
As part of the reforms, workers injured on their way to and from their place of employment would no longer be eligible to claim compensation.
In addition, those who are eligible will only be able to claim medical payments for up to one year – after the twelve month mark, access to compensation will be stopped.
These reforms would apply to both those currently receiving compensation and all future applicants.
Mr Pearce emphasises that these legislations changes are not intended to compromise workers.
“The government is determined that we will have the best possible scheme to support injured workers and we also want to ensure the scheme is financially sustainable,” he asserted.
However, many groups and organisations are not so sure, such as the Fire Brigade Employees Union.
Although police and other emergency workers are exempt from these reforms, NSW firefighters are not.
“The government is protecting the entitlements of police and the entitlements of emergency workers, who will working alongside firefighters whose entitlements are being cut to the bone,” Green MP David Shoebridge told the Australian Associated Press.
Opposition leader John Robertson also spoke out against the proposed legislation.
“That’s a tragedy for all workers in NSW, particularly anyone who’s currently receiving workers compensation benefits,” he told ABC news.
The upper house is meant to make a final decision today (June 21).
If passed, those who are no longer covered by the state government may need to find other means of funding their medical payments.
Fortunately there are compensation lawyers in Sydney that can help you to make a claim.
Certain lawyers also operate on a no win no fee basis, meaning that unless they win your case you will not need to pay.