workers compensation, workplace safety, return to work programs

Laws in WA are Changing. From July 1, 2024, Western Australia’s workers compensation laws will undergo significant changes. The new Workers Compensation and Injury Management Act 2023 and accompanying supporting regulations aim to provide greater clarity, fairness, and efficiency for all key stakeholder groups involved. Employers and employees must familiarise themselves with the new requirements under the updated workers’ compensation legislation.

New WA Workers Compensation Laws

  • New Laws and Regulations:
    • the Workers Compensation and Injury Management Act 2023.
    • the Workers Compensation and Injury Management Regulations 2024
  • Effective date: July 1, 2024
  • Replaces: the Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Act 1981
  • Key Object: Reflects industrial relations reforms and technological and commercial advancements.

New WA Workers Compensation Laws for Employers

The Act introduces new obligations and entitlements for WA employers:

  • Compliance: Follow updated regulations to avoid penalties up to $10,000 per non-compliant employee.
  • Claim Processing: Submit claims within 7 days to prevent delays and penalties.
  • Financial Responsibilities: Understand new income compensation rates to avoid underpayment.
  • Weekly Rate of Income Compensation: Employers must be aware of the updated weekly rates of income compensation to ensure accurate payments.
  • Return to Work Programs: Establish programs for partially incapacitated workers.
  • Policy Changes: Industrial disease policies are now under the Workers’ Compensation Act.
  • Liability and Settlement: Register settlement agreements properly to discharge liability.

New WA Workers Compensation Laws for Employees

Workers have new rights and obligations under the Act in WA:

  • Claim Deadlines: File compensation claims within 12 months of injury (same as previous act).
  • Income Compensation: Note changes to income compensation, including step-down rates and safety net provisions.
  • Return to Work Obligations: Participate in Return To Work programs.
  • Medical Treatment Choices: Choose your medical practitioners.
  • Penalties for Non-Compliance: Be aware of potential employer penalties to ensure compliance.

Key Points in the Workers Compensation Legislation

The modernise workers compensation laws have significantly impacted several areas of workers’ compensation in WA. Here’s a closer look at some of the most important changes:

Medical Expenses:

  • Doubling Medical and Health Expenses Limit: More financial support for injured workers.

Prohibition on Employer Involvement:

  • Medical Appointments: Employers cannot attend.
  • Return-to-Work Case Conferences: Employers can attend.

Psychological Claims:

  • Exclusions for Reasonable Administrative Actions: Stress-related claims from “reasonable management action” are excluded unless actions are harsh and unreasonable.

Catastrophic Injuries:

  • Catastrophic Injuries Support Scheme (CISS): This scheme ensures lifetime care for people who are catastrophically injured in motor vehicle accidents or work accidents.
  • Lifetime Care Services by ICWA: No duplicate compensation for treatment or healthcare expenses.

Claim Process and Payment Timeframe:

  • 12-Month Filing Period: Workers have up to 12 months to file a claim.
  • Employer Obligations: Must forward claim forms and medical certificates to insurers within 7 days.
  • Workers Can Directly Submit Claims to the Insurer: if employers fail to forward claims to their workers compensation insurance company on time
  • 14 Days to issue Liability Decision Notice: Insurers must issue a liability Decision notice or a ‘deferred decision notice’ within 14 days of receiving a worker’s claim for compensation.
  • Provisional Payments: Begin within 28 days of receiving a claim.
  • Deferred Liability Claims: Claims must receive a liability decision within 120 days, or liability will be automatically accepted.

Return-to-Work:

  • Employer Responsibilities: Establish return-to-work programs.
  • Worker Participation: Injured workers must participate in return-to-work programs and comply with obligations, including workplace rehabilitation.
  • Progress Certificates: Injured workers must provide a progress certificate of capacity to the employer or insurer within 7 days.
  • Compensation Adjustments: Employers can adjust or discontinue compensation upon return to work, with required notification as per compensation and injury management guidelines.
  • Employer Actions: Employers can seek an arbitrator’s order if a worker fails to comply with duties.
  • Arbitrator Orders:
    • Compliance: Order the worker to comply.
    • Suspension: Suspend income compensation payments.
    • Termination: Terminate compensation if non-compliance persists for 1 month or as ordered.
    • Reasonable Excuse: Worker must prove a reasonable excuse to avoid termination of compensation.

Income Compensation:

  • Calculation Basis: Based on worker’s earnings over the preceding 12 months.
  • Weekly Rate of Income: The weekly rate of income compensation will step down to 85% of pre-injury income after 26 weeks.
  • Integration with Annual Leave: Workers can receive income compensation and take annual leave concurrently.

Settlement and Dispute Proceedings:

  • Unified Process for Statutory Claims.
  • Separate Process for Common Law Claims.
  • Settlement Agreements: Crucial for resolving claims through lump-sum payments.
  • Arbitrators’ Authority: Can dismiss proceedings and refer cases to medical panels if necessary.
  • Dispute Resolution: Workers have 21 days to dispute decisions to reduce or discontinue income compensation based on medical evidence.

Pre-Employment Screening:

  • Prohibition on Requesting Past Claims: Employers cannot request information on past workers’ compensation claims.
  • Penalties: Fines up to $10,000 for violations.

Enhanced Financial Support:

  • Increased Financial Support: For injured workers.
  • Updated Fee Structures: Aligned with AMA rates.
  • Entitlement to Medical Expenses: Including medical transport services like the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
  • Liability Limits for Terrorism-Related Incidents: Increased from $25M to $100M.
  • Premium Loadings: Insurers can apply without prior approval from WorkCover WA.

Increased Penalties for Non-Compliance:

  • Penalties Doubled: From $5,000 to $10,000 per employee.
  • Employer Obligations: Must submit claim forms and medical certificates within 7 days.

Working Directors:

  • Inclusion of Public Company Directors: Coverage based on remuneration statements.

Common Law:

  • Permanent Impairment Threshold: Set at 15%.
  • Special Provisions: For conditions not stabilised within 18 months post-injury.
  • Expedited Processes for Dust Disease Claims.

Policy Changes:

  • Integration of Industrial Disease Claims: Into Workers Compensation policy.
  • New Review Process for Premium Rates.

Treatment Choices

  • Workers’ Right to Choose Practitioners.
  • Prohibition on Employers and Insurers Attending Medical Examinations.

Resources for Employers and Workers

Information on Injury Management Scheme

WorkCover WA is a government agency responsible for regulating and administering the workers compensation scheme in Western Australia, but does not provide legal advice specific to your work-related injury claim, or policy advice regarding your workers compensation insurance.

Legal Advice for Your Workers Compensation Claim

If you have made a workers’ compensation claim or are about to make a work-related injury claim, you should contact a specialist workers compensation lawyer to determine your rights and entitlements under the new and modernized workers compensation laws.

Christian Foyle best injury compensation lawyers Perth for workers comp and personal injury claims
MEET THE AUTHOR

Christian Foyle, founder and director of Foyle Legal - one of the top-rated personal injury law firms in Perth, Western Australia. Christian has been named one of the best compensation lawyers, leading workers' lawyers, and recommended public liability lawyers in WA. Born and raised in Western Australia, his mission is to bring social justice to those injured in accidents that are not their fault. Christian helps injured people seek fair compensation with a No Win, No Fee solution. Follow him on TikTok and LinkedIn.

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