Injured workers need every chance to be assessed before workers comp rules change

8th Jul 2022

New workers’ compensation laws in South Australia provide some certainty for workers but there will be seriously injured people who miss out on the support they need.

“It is essential that the Return to Work Authority acts promptly to ensure that those workers who may be adversely affected by the amendments have every reasonable opportunity to have their claims assessed prior to the transition date,” Sarah Vinall, SA President, ALA.

“The transitional provisions mean that injured workers must have their impairment assessments prior to 1 January 2023, otherwise the higher 35% threshold will apply to their claims.”

The Return to Work (Scheme Sustainability) Amendment Bill passed Parliament this week with several amendments made to the Bill.

“We are relieved that many of our concerns were addressed in the final Bill,” said Ms Vinall. “The amended Bill confirms that the Summerfield principles apply. This means that when calculating impairment, a consequential injury can be combined with the original injury.

“Without the work of the Parliamentary cross bench to revise the Bill, particularly Connie Bonaros and Tammy Franks, the outcome for South Australian workers would have been terrible.

“The worst of the proposed amendments have been diminished but the change that requires a worker be assessed at 35% impairment to be entitled to long terms benefits is a significant encroachment of the scheme.

“For example, a worker with a below the knee amputation, who may be assessed at 28% and maybe 5% for loss of skin and scarring, may now struggle to be accepted as a seriously injured worker on the scheme and therefore their entitlements to income will be terminated after two years.

“This affects people and their families is a very real way.  It is important that organisations like ALA and others remain diligent to oppose any further encroachment of workers' rights.

“We continue to be concerned about the haste that the Bill was introduced and passed through Parliament. The Return to Work legislation is complicated and, in our view, there has not been sufficient time to consider all the implications of the amendments, which is likely to lead to confusion and litigation.”

Tags: South Australia Workers compensation