Labor is pushing for compassion to be returned to the Workers Compensation Scheme for injured workers in the Hunter.
Shadow Minister for Finance and Small Business, Daniel Mookhey, visited Newcastle today to hear from injured workers and unions with Member for Newcastle, Tim Crakanthorp.
The Opposition introduced a Bill to the NSW Legislative Council last month to remove provisions that kick injured workers off the Workers Compensation scheme.
Since 2012, more than 4,000 injured workers across NSW have had their benefits cut off. It is estimated that figure will grow by another 80 people per month over the next year.
Weekly income replacement payments to injured workers were time-limited to just five years following changes initiated by Liberal-National Government. Medical support was time-limited to a further two years, estimated to affect 1882 injured workers this financial year.
Mr Mookhey and Mr Crakanthorp agreed that urgent action is needed to assist injured workers in the Hunter who are still suffering and unable to return to work.
“These are cruel and heartless provisions affecting injured workers here in the Hunter. Employees who are injured at work should have the Government in their corner. Instead the Berejiklian Government has kicked them to the curb.” Mr Mookhey said.
“The injuries of these workers is permanent; their ability to access support shouldn’t be temporary. Labor wants to give them fresh hope for the future”
Mr Crakanthorp said: “Receiving a serious injury can have an irrevocable impact on not just the person hurt, but their family as well as they adjust to a new way of life and the loss of an income.
“When you go to work you expect to come home unharmed, but we know that accidents can happen so should the worst occur we need to be supporting these workers as they rebuild their lives.”
The Bill will be debated in the NSW Upper House in the new year.
- As at June 2019, a total of 3,886 injured workers have had their benefits terminated under Section 39 of the Workers Compensation Act.
- The State Insurance Regulatory Authority expects an average of 80 workers will be terminated over the 2019/20 financial year.
- 1,882 injured workers will also lose medical benefits between now and June 2020.
- 15 injured workers have reported self-harm and an additional six have tragically committed suicide.
- In 2018, 375 workers were identified by the State Insurance Regulatory Authority as at high risk of self-harm.
KEY CHANGES THAT LABOR WANTS TO LEGISLATE
- Removal of the five year cut-off date for weekly payments to injured workers (Section 39);
- Removal of the eligibility cut-off to claim certain medical and related expenses following cessation of compensation (Section 59A);
- Better define suitable employment to make it necessary that the job actually exists and is reasonable in proximity (Part (b) of Section 32A);
- More fairly balance the responsibility of the employer so as to not allow for termination of an injured worker after 6 months without offence (Section 248);
- Reinstate coverage for journey claims (Section 10 (1D & 3A)).