Western Australia’s Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Act (“the Act”) has been amended on a piecemeal basis many times since its introduction in 1981. This has resulted in a complex and highly prescriptive statute that is difficult to understand and sometimes frustrating to apply.
In April 2010, after 12 months of deliberation, the government released WorkCoverWA’s recommendations for an improved structure for the Act, to enhance the readability and consistency of the legislation and to improve the capacity of the legislation to accommodate changing circumstances in the workforce.
These changes will come into effect on 1 October 2011.
There are three changes that are of particular relevance at a day-to-day level for Western Australian employers:
- Age-based limits on workers’ compensation entitlements are to be removed so that an injured worker older than 64 will have the same entitlements as any other injured worker. Currently, anyone over 64 is only entitled to one year of wages. (This change is not retrospective and will only apply to injuries that occur on or after 1 October.)
- The amendments will compel an employer to pay an injured worker their entitlements within 14 days of the insurer approving the claim. There will be a $2,000 fine for failure to do so. For employers who pay monthly, this is an important consideration in making sure that your systems will allow for possible ad hoc payments to be made between ‘normal’ payroll runs.
- The calculation of the rate of pay for the first 13 weeks of incapacity will be based solely on the injured worker’s earnings in the 12 months previous to the injury. Currently, the wage calculation depends on whether someone is on an Award or not, which is confusing and often delays the calculation of wage entitlement.
To make sure that you stay up-to-date with these and many other changes coming into effect, connect with Aurenda for regular updates.