Work Cover Amendment
Workers’ Compensation in Queensland has recently been amended on 24 September 2015. This scheme previously had a massive change in October 2013 introduced by the previous Newman government. This year’s amendment is simply restoring our Workers’ Compensation system to what it was before October 2013. Whilst Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2015 (Qld) (“the amended Act”) sets out various changes, the most important changes for Queensland workers are:-
- Abolishing 5% threshold rule for common law claims; and
- Introducing additional compensation schemes for the workers injured before 24 September 2015.
After October 2013 amendment, 5% threshold rule (“the rule”) has been limiting injured workers’ entitlement for a common law damages, if the workers receive below 6% from the Work Cover’s assessment on the workers’ degree of permanent impairment. The rule no longer exists in the amended Act.
The amended Act defines two (2) different periods for additional compensations, being: pre-amended Act and transitional period. Section 708 defines pre-amended Act as “Act as in force before 31 January 2015”, and further defines transitional period commencing from 31 January 2015 and ending on 24 September 2015.
Queensland workers sustained injuries during the transitional period are entitled to seek common law damages against their employers regardless of their degree of permanent impairment, unless exceptional circumstances apply.
For the workers sustained injuries before 31 January 2015, unfortunately section 709 in the amended Act confirms that the pre-amended Act to be continued to apply on these injuries. The amended Act however allows the workers injured before 31 January 2015 to seek additional payouts from the Work Cover, if conditions in section 193A are met. Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Amendment Regulation (No. 1) 2015 (Qld) prescribes the amount of additional payout as $6,298.00 per percentage of degree of permanent impairment. Hence, the injured workers with 5% are entitled to seek additional $31,490.00 payouts.
It is therefore important for injured workers in Queensland, whether the date of injuries is before 31 January 2015 or after, to seek a professional legal advice in relations to the amended Act from nearby personal injury lawyers.