NSW Government announces package of reforms to workers compensation
The Baird Government today delivered on a key election promise, announcing a $1 billion package of reforms to the state’s Workers’ Compensation Scheme to support injured workers and business.
The package, revealed by NSW Minister for Finance, Services and Property, Dominic Perrottet, will reform three key areas of the Scheme using funds reserved following the government’s successful efforts to bring the Scheme back to surplus.
First, WorkCover will be divided into three agencies to separate its regulatory and insurance functions. SafeWork NSW will become responsible for regulating workplace health and safety, Insurance & Care NSW will become responsible for improving service delivery to injured workers, and the State Insurance Regulatory Authority will be made responsible for regulating the Scheme.
Second, several new benefits will be offered for injured workers. Lump sum and minimum weekly payment thresholds will be raised, entitlements for new types of prostheses will be added and additional financial assistance for return to work, education and training will be introduced. The definition of whole body impairment will also be reduced from 30 to 20 per cent impairment, enabling more injured workers to access lifelong medical expense assistance, while medical benefits will now be paid for two years for people with 10 per cent impairment or less and five years for more serious injuries (11 to 20 per cent impairment).
Third, premiums for businesses maintaining safe work places and assisting injured employees in their efforts to return to work will be reduced by between 5 and 20 per cent. This will save businesses an estimated $200 million each year.
The reforms deliver on the Government’s commitment to direct two thirds of every dollar above the amount needed to keep WorkCover sustainable to supporting injured workers, and one third towards lowering premiums for businesses.
In order to effect the changes, Mr Perrottet will introduce two Bills into the Parliament, the Workers Compensation Amendment Bill 2015 and the State Insurance and Care Governance Bill 2015.
Further details about the proposed reforms can be viewed here