Category Archives: Workers Compensation

Prescribed Amounts and other Workers’ Compensation payments for 2014/2015

WorkCover WA releases variations in Prescribed Amounts and other Workers’ Compensation payments for 2014/2015

WorkCover WA today announced the new limits payable under the Act.

Key elements of the revised Prescribed Amounts are:

  • Maximum payment: $212,980.00 (up from $206,742)
  • Medical and hospital expenses: $63,894.00 (up from $62,023)
  • Vocational rehabilitation expenses: $14,909.00 (up from $14,472)
  • Weekly payments: $2,594.20 (up from $2,448.50)

These increases are effective from 1st July, 2014.

Injured employees who are currently in receipt of the maximum weekly compensation of $2,448.50 may be entitled to an increase. You should seek advice from your insurer before making any changes to the approved weekly compensation rate.

The Recommended Prescribed Amount and other Workers’ Compensation Payments for 2014-2015 are available here from the WorkCover WA website.

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Filed under Aurenda, Insurance premiums, Workers Compensation, workers' compensation amendments

Proposed Changes to WA’s Workers’ Compensation Legislation

In Western Australia, the current Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Act 1981 (the Act) has been amended a number of times and consequently is difficult to understand and apply. WorkCover WA recently published a discussion paper outlining proposals to re-draft the Act. The discussion paper was designed as the basis for consultation with a range of stakeholders in the WA workers’ compensation system, including insurers, rehabilitation providers, lawyers and industry groups.

As an employer advocate, Aurenda made a submission and our perspective on the Review focussed on changes that will particularly impact on the ability of employers to effectively manage their injured employees and the negative impact on claims costs, future premiums and the effective operation of their business.

The scope of the Review is wide and varied, with more than 160 recommendations to ‘improve’ the WA workers’ compensation system.

Some salient points we focussed on are:

  • The Act will not be amended, rather re written with a focus on “plain speech”. We fully support this recommendation.
  • Currently, an injured employee who is in receipt of weekly compensation and commences maternity leave continues to receive their full weekly compensation payments. We propose that weekly compensation should be suspended for the period of the applicable maternity leave period. This is an aspect of the current legislation that clearly contradicts the intent of the legislation, since the injured employee is not able to participate in the return to work process and therefore should not be entitled to compensation during that period. This was not contained within the recommendations – we have asked that this be addressed.
  • Failure to attend or participate in medical reviews arranged under s64 and s65 still requires focus. The Review proposes a consolidation of the sections but does not address any consequence for the non-attendance or participation in the medical reviews. These medical reviews are crucial to an employer in progressing their injury management obligations as well as the general management of the employee’s injury. We recommended an immediate suspension of weekly compensation where there is failure to attend or participate in a medical review that is scheduled under these sections of the Act.
  • The proposal to remove s92(f) as a mechanism to settle and resolve claims is not an option we support. It is crucial to allow both the employee and employer an opportunity to resolve the dispute over entitlement. This provides closure and certainty for the injured employee. It also allows the insurer to close the claim which provides certainty to the employer of impact on their insurance policy.
  • Removal of the common law election period under s93M is proposed. This is not supported as the election provides an understanding of the injured employees’ intentions in respect of their future entitlements (a statutory claim or a common law claim) and this invariably motivates their compliance and return to work motivation. The added benefit of an election is knowing the likely cost exposure of the claim which assists employers with premium negotiations.
  • It is proposed the twelve month time limit of notice of injury be removed (s178). We have not supported that change as the notification allows an employer to manage the injured employee in the workplace to ensure no further injury or aggravation, it also ensures that any changes to the system of work can occur or document the circumstances in the event a claim is made in the future and documentation is required by the insurer. Furthermore, if an employee believes they have a workplace injury why would they not want to report it to their employer within a reasonable timeframe and 12 months is not an onerous timeframe.
  • The proposal to allow people other than doctors to issue medical certificates is not a concept we support. The doctors (treating or second opinion) are key to providing an objective and evidence-based approach to determining an injured employee’s need for treatment and/or incapacity to work. Allowing other allied health providers the authority would diminish the integrity of the system as well as possibly expose the system to rort.
  • The recommendation to allow payment of small claims on a Without Admission of Liability basis to a cap of $750 is a good initiative but clarity will be required on the type of injuries and that it relates to medical expenses claims only.
  • Clarification and simplifying the rate of pay calculation is a welcome initiative. It is likely, however, that will mean there will be no step down rate after 13 weeks incapacity and the step down provides an incentive to motivate a return to work. We recommended an across the board reduction of 15% after 13 weeks incapacity. This is consistent with the approach taken in other jurisdictions.
  • It is proposed an injured employee can receive their permanent impairment lump sum entitlement and leave their claim open to receive the balance of their entitlements. This will increase the costs to the system and contribute to the longevity of claims.   We have opposed this recommendation.
  • Under s69 a Form 6 is required to be submitted if an injured employee is out of the State more than three months. The Review recommends weekly compensation to be suspended until the required form is submitted. We supported this amendment but further clarity on the frequency of the submission of the form is required as well as whether weekly compensation is backdated once there is compliance with the necessary forms evidencing an ongoing incapacity.
  • The proposed revisions of s84AA is pleasing as it addresses some of the ambiguity for an employer when they are terminating employment contracts which, invariably, are not related to the injury or claim process.

The process of ‘reviewing the Review’, amending recommendations, seeking further feedback from stakeholders and drafting a completely new version of the Workers’ Compensation Act will take a great deal of time and commitment from WorkCover and the Government. We are pleased to represent employers’ interests in this significant project.

 

Footnote: Chris White, WorkCover CEO, stated that WorkCover received more than 70 submissions to the Review and that they are impressed with the constructive feedback that has been provided.

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WorkCover WA releases variations in Prescribed Amounts and other Workers’ Compensation payments for 2013/2014

WorkCover WA today announced the new limits payable under the Act.

Key elements of the revised Prescribed Amounts are:

  • Maximum payment: $206,742.00 (up from $198,365)
  • Medical and hospital expenses: $62,023.00 (up from $59,510)
  • Vocational rehabilitation expenses: $14,472.00 (up from $13,886)
  • Weekly payments: $2,448.50 (up from $2,351.80)

These increases are effective from 1st July, 2013.

Injured employees who are currently in receipt of the maximum weekly compensation of $2,351.80 may be entitled to an increase. You should seek advice from your insurer before making any changes to the approved weekly compensation rate.

The Recommended Prescribed Amount and other Workers’ Compensation Payments for 2013-2014 are available here from the WorkCover WA website.

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AurendaWCD Alliance

With effect from today, 20 May 2013, Aurenda has formed a National Alliance with WCD Workers’ Compensation. The AurendaWCD Alliance creates a truly independent national provider of expert workers’ compensation and injury management solutions.

This National Alliance enables Aurenda and WCD  to deliver a comprehensive service platform nationally, where required, yet maintain our independent service offerings. The combined resources of the Alliance will build upon the existing expertise within each business to service any employer with workers’ compensation needs, no matter where they are located or operate.  As Employer Advocates, our collective focus is  to work with our clients to manage workplace injuries and illness (whether or not they lead to an actual claim); ensure robust injury management and workers’ compensation policies and procedures are in place; and  track and manage costs.

About Aurenda:

Founded in 2002, Aurenda specialises in reducing the financial and human cost of injury in the workplace. We partner with organisations to deliver injury prevention, injury management and training services that ultimately reduce workers’ compensation costs plus the ‘hidden’ costs of workplace injury such as lost time, overtime, sick leave and the poor morale that can flow from poor management of workplace injuries. Our team of professionals is experienced in risk management, paramedical and allied health, workers’ compensation, safety and training.  Working in close partnership with some of Australia’s foremost public and private sector organisations, Aurenda empowers clients to minimise the human and financial costs associated with workplace injury.

About WCD Workers’ Compensation Solutions:

Founded in 1999, WCD Workers’ Compensation Solutions is a management consultancy company that specialises in workers’ compensation.  WCD’s staff has extensive experience across numerous aspects of workers’ compensation, bringing to our clients a complete solution to their workers’ compensation requirements. WCD has a large range of clients from diverse industries, providing premium, claims, and injury management advice to insured and self-insured businesses. Using our broad expertise and combined years of experience we ensure you achieve sustainable financial and social outcomes through our range of practical, cost efficient, and innovative support services.

We’re very excited about this new aspect of our service capabilities, which extends our capacity to deliver excellent workplace injury risk management solutions that achieve sustainable results.

For more information, I direct you to the following website, where you can also view a YouTube video that provides more insight into the AurendaWCD Alliancewww.AurendaWCD.com.au

Of course, you can also visit our respective websites to see more about our services and results:

www.aurenda.com

www.wcdcomp.com.au

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Filed under Aurenda, AurendaWCD Alliance, Workers Compensation

WorkCover WA releases Workers’ Compensation Premium Rates for 2013-2014

WorkCover WA has released the recommended workers’ compensation premium rates for 2013-2014. Although the average rate across the entire workers’ compensation scheme has decreased by 1.36%, this decrease is not applied uniformly across all 480 premium rating classificatons and decreases or increases in specific gazetted premium rates will vary from industry-to-industry.

The important point for employers to understand is that unless their claims history is better than that of their industry peers, they are unlikely to see any significant reductions in their next workers’ compensation premium renewal and in fact may be subject to increases in premium depending on claims performance.

For employers with 30 June renewals, now is the time to act! If you have any concerns about the potential impact of current claims costs on your premium renewal, contact us to discss what opportunities exist to reduce claims costs in the small windows that remains.

Media Statement – 9 April 2013
WorkCover WA announces Recommended Premium Rates for 2013/14

The Chairman of the WorkCover WA Board, Mr Greg Joyce, today announced the 2013/14 recommended premium rates for compulsory workers’ compensation insurance in Western Australia.

Mr Joyce said that the average recommended premium rate would fall slightly to 1.668 per cent of total wages for 2013/14, down from 1.691 per cent of total wages for 2012/13.

The recommended premium rates are based on independent advice by the workers’ compensation scheme actuary, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and take into account the latest available data on claims experience provided by insurers, as well as broader economic factors such as movements in interest rates and wages.

Mr Joyce said the decrease in 2013/14 is largely due to continued wages growth in Western Australia. However, the positive impact of wages growth is offset by other factors, including increases in claim numbers and associated costs, and reductions in real rates of return for approved insurers.

The decrease is not applied uniformly across all 480 premium rating classifications.

The Recommended Premium Rates for 2013-2014 are available here from the WorkCover WA website.

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FAQ: Working from home, workplace safety and workers’ compensation.

Question:

An employee has asked to work from home. It is possible from a productivity point of view. What happens in relation to Workers’ Compensation?

Answer:

Having home-based employees is becoming more common due to the changes in flexible hours, technology and productivity. However, having your staff working from home does raise issues that you cannot ignore when it comes to Work Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation.

“When you allow an employee to work from home, you surrender control of their environment and working habits, so it’s essential to take the time to prepare in order to avoid landing in hot water. Fear of legal action shouldn’t deter you from encouraging flexible work practices, but it does mean that you should take measures to protect yourself should a crisis strike.” http://www.businessroom.com/en/Article/Categories/Managing/Workers-compensation-for-employees-that-work-from-home

If you decide to go down the path of allowing employees to work from home on a regular basis, be proactive in your approach:

  1. Maintain regular workplace health and safety training and include home-based work safety examples.
  2. Discuss the protocols for home workplace safety upfront. Make sure your staff members understand their responsibilities.
  3. As the employer, you have a duty of care to provide a safe workplace wherever your employees are based – and this includes their home. Conduct a workplace audit of their home working environment.
  4. Employee workplace safety responsibilities still exist at home so they must identify unsafe situations and report hazards, incidents and injuries. Provide them with specific training in conducting worksite risk assessments and place expectations on them to provide your safety personnel with the outcomes of these assessments.

Ultimately, if your home-based employee does suffer an injury in their workplace (their home!), they may well be covered by workers’ compensation.  However, there are parameters that need to be met for an injury to be considered under workers’ compensation, ie did work contribute to a significant degree to the injury?  Your workers’ compensation process should be initiated to enable a proper and fair assessment of the situation to be undertaken prior to a decision on liability.

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Filed under Aurenda, Occupational Health and Safety, Work Health and Safety, Workers Compensation

Hidden costs of a workplace injury

 

Studies place the hidden costs of a workplace injury at 4.5 times the direct cost of the Workers’ Compensation claim.

 

  • How are you estimating the potential costs of your current workplace injuries?
  • Are your people up-skilled in managing the potential indirect costs to your business?
  • Just who is in control of the cost of your workplace injuries?**

 

Give your people the edge in reducing the cost of workplace injury with employer-focused training from Aurenda.

Don’t delay.

Click here to find out more about Aurenda’s Injury Management Coordinator Course.

Email training@aurenda.com or ring Pippa on 6389 8900 for further information.

 

 

Book Now! Some places still available for November (28, 29 and 30).

 

 

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Filed under Aurenda, Injury Management, Workers Compensation