WorkCover NSW watchdog calls for simpler system

workcover-confused

According to the WorkCover Independent Review Office (WIRO), amendments made to WorkCover NSW in 2012 have left the program “overly complex and a source of confusion and frustration for all scheme participants”.

WorkCover NSW watchdog calls for simpler system

Amendments made to WorkCover NSW in 2012 have left the program “overly complex and a source of confusion and frustration for all scheme participants”, according to the WorkCover Independent Review Office (WIRO).

Two pieces of legislation that govern the scheme – the Workers’ Compensation Acts 1987 and 1998 – should be merged into one, it suggests in a discussion paper.

As part of an inquiry called the Parkes Project, WIRO is consulting employers, insurers, injured workers and lawyers about the changes made in 2012.

“What we are trying to say is that life should be simpler for a worker and it should not be so difficult for a worker to find their way through the system,” WorkCover Independent Review Officer Kim Garling told insuranceNEWS.com.au.

A final report will reach the State Government by the end of this month or early next month, he says.

The paper identifies problems including conflicting definitions of injury, complicated multiple claims processes and unclear explanations of employer return-to-work obligations.

It recommends simplifying multiple claims processes into one process, to bind all scheme participants and reduce confusion and unnecessary cost and delays.

Another option is to create a new pathway to resolve minor claims.

In cases of lump sum claims for permanent impairment, the restriction to one claim only must be reviewed, it says.

Mr Garling says determining how to calculate pre-injury earnings is another problematic area.

“Its interesting when you get a strong union and an insurer both agreeing that a particular area such as this needs further consideration, because it suits neither of them and does not work.”

The inquiry has received a number of submissions, including from the NSW Workers’ Compensation Self Insurers Association, which represents large employers such as Woolworths and Wesfarmers.

It calls for the calculation of pre-injury earnings to be simplified to exclude penalties and other loadings. “Currently the calculation is complex due to multiple employers and numerous allowances. [The] Victorian calculation is simpler and should be considered.”

The submission says it is “overly complex” and “extremely time-consuming” for employers to make a work capacity decision, then conduct an internal review and a WorkCover merit review, to which employers must provide a further reply in seven days, which then goes to WIRO for review – and which, if upheld, can result in an appeal process.

“The process needs complete revision,” the submission says.

The 2012 changes have created inconsistencies that are confusing even for lawyers.

The Law Society of NSW’s submission says insurers have avoided liability for medical treatment due to dispute resolution and other requirements, and these areas have proven unworkable, with delays often preventing prompt and effective treatment.

Injured workers are entitled to receive one lump sum payment only, but the society wants exceptions to this rule for workers whose conditions have deteriorated.

The three-stage review process is complex, cumbersome and time-consuming, the society says.

[Source: http://www.insurancenews.com.au/regulatory-government/nsw-workcover-watchdog-calls-for-simpler-system]



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One Response to “WorkCover NSW watchdog calls for simpler system”

  1. After reading this and the latest post about the Queensland government winding back the harsh changes to Workers Comp, I wish to state my intention to become a refugee from NSW (don’t worry I am not coming by boat). Ever since Barry O Farrell inflicted his torturous amendments on the poor injured workers of this state, I have seen very little good news for any of us. It cannot go on like this, really it is like torture and there is virtually no accountability. You can be bullied, your doctor can be bullied and there is so little you can do about it. The little games that are played are appalling and make you consider plotting revenge that would make the tv show Revenge seem like the Teletubbies or throwing your hands up and imagining saying F You to the case manager, every time you get one of their deliberately inconsistent messages. I despair of it ever changing to anything better, I had hopes back in March but the voters in this state decided that a pretty faced premier was worth more than my rights or the rights of other injured workers. So Queensland, looks like you might be a better option for workers, I hope it happens and is not just an election promise made to be broken.

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