Recommendations released as part of the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into workers compensation have failed to address the key problems in the WorkCover scheme and will only make it harder for workers to return to work, according to law firm Slater and Gordon.
The Coalition-dominated committee has recommended cutting the time workers can receive 95 per cent of their pre-injury salary from 26 weeks to 13 weeks and all benefits for less seriously injured workers to be phased out after five years.
No benefits would be paid after retirement age and family claims for nervous shock following the death of a loved one would be scrapped under the recommended changes.
Mr Hayden Stephens, General Manager, said nearly all of the committee’s 28 recommendations are about reducing benefits rather than addressing the administrative and appalling work practises in the workers’ compensation scheme.
“Nearly all the recommendations in this report are about cutting injured workers benefits,” he said.
“Not one of them does anything about the blowout in red tape and the huge increase in fees and payments to insurances companies.
“If these recommendations are accepted by the Government it will burden NSW workers with one of the worst compensation schemes in Australia.
“In NSW no injured worker will receive compensation for their pain or suffering. Not Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania, WA or the Territory treat their workers with such cruelty. It’s simply breathtaking that any Government would ignore the suffering of its injured workforce.”
Slater and Gordon currently act for a NSW worker with a serious crush foot injury. Under the proposed changes, he will get no compensation for his pain and suffering in NSW. Just a few hundred kilometres away in Victoria, he could get $200,000 for his injury.
The facts are that poor investment returns, blowouts in WorkCover costs and increased payments to insurance agents are the real cause of the WorkCover $4 billion black hole.