Reforms to the NSW workers compensation scheme were passed in June, but people in the state are still not convinced that they are doing the best by workers.
The NSW Bar Association yesterday released a statement that called on the government to provide some more clarity about how workers would be protected, especially financially, should they have to make a claim.
Bernard Coles, president of the association, said that he would like the government to provide a more comprehensive breakdown of how it intends to assist workers.
“Although we welcome the establishment of a free legal representation scheme for workers, the government has not indicated what resources will be made available to support this service,” Mr Coles said.
He is concerned that the burden of paying for legal advice and assistance may still fall onto the backs of injured workers – something he is seeking clarification about moving forward.
“In the absence of any detail from the government, there is a real danger that injured workers with valid claims may still be forced to take legal action and bear the costs of their claim,” Mr Cole said.
Meanwhile, however, WorkCover NSW also issued a press release yesterday outlining some more details about the scheme.
State minister for finances and services Greg Pearce announced the establishment of a new Independent Legal Assistance and Review Service (ILARS), which “is designed to provide a free, independent and quick process to address matters otherwise dealt with in the Workers Compensation Commission”.
Mr Pearce added: “This will mean workers can have their matters reviewed without going through the stress of a full hearing before the Workers Compensation Commission or the associated legal expenses.”
All reviews are intended to be conducted by independent workers compensation experts.
That said, it seems that the NSW Bar Association is concerned about what happens if this review panel does not judge a person’s injury to be legitimate.
They are asking for the government to provide “a guarantee that injured workers with valid claims will not be forced out of the system”.
The new workers compensation laws may take a while for people to get their heads around, and if you are injured at the workplace then it may be worth seeking the advice of a professional.
There are lawyers in Sydney that are specialised in this area of law, and which operate on a no win no fee basis – meaning that you do not have to pay for their services unless your claim is successful.