On 23 September 2019, I foreshadowed recommended amendments to the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act (the Act).
On 22 October 2019, the amending Bill was passed. At the time of publishing this Legal Alert, Royal assent had not yet been granted to enact the legislation.
What you need to know now
Over 75 sections, schedules and regulations were amended, but here are the highlights:
- The definition of psychological or psychiatric injury is amended so that employment need only be “a significant contributing factor to the injury” rather than the major significant contributing factor.
- Workers’ compensation coverage will be extended to unpaid interns and an additional premium may be charged.
- A late Application for Compensation may be accepted if lodged within 20 business days of an assessment by a doctor, nurse practitioner or dentist.
- An employer must report injury to WorkCover or its self-insurer immediately after the employer knows the injury has been sustained, the worker reports the injury or the employer receives its insurer’s written request for a report.
- WorkCover or a self-insurer must take all reasonable steps to provide reasonable services to support a worker who has suffered a psychiatric or psychological injury, from the day the worker makes an Application for Compensation, even before the Application for Compensation has been allowed.
- Expressions of regret and apologies are defined as separate things and may be offered without constituting an express or implied admission of fault or liability.
- Guidance is given as to how employers can ensure their rehabilitation and return to work coordinator is appropriately qualified.
Overall, the theme of the amendments extends the “beneficial” nature of the legislation. i.e. to assist injured workers and to consolidate the framework around protection, early intervention and return to work.