The Western Australian State Government is drafting a bill to amend the Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Act 1981, the legislation dealing with workers compensation claims in Western Australia. The proposed legislation intends to increase the lump sum paid to dependants of people who die as a result of a work injury from $304,185 to $554,727.
The weekly allowance paid to support each dependent child is set to increase from $58.10 to $133. There is also a plan to ensure assess to compensation is equal for de facto partners and married spouses.
The proposed provisions will simplify the method for apportioning the lump sum between multiple dependants, streamline the claims process, and ensure dependent children receive an appropriate level of financial support. The current legislation is quite complicated, especially where the dependants are partially dependent or there is a spouse and several dependants to are dependent on the person who was died.
This was recently reflected by the Commerce and Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston who said “The current workers’ compensation legislation is unfair and very complicated. Mr Johnston went on to say words to the effect that the new Labour Government is keen to act so that people who are killed at work receive fair and reasonable compensation, which is prioritised and expedited.
This new proposed legislation follows a review of the workers compensation legislation which was undertaken in June 2014.
Under the workers compensation legislation Injured workers (who have not died) also have a range of entitlements available if necessary pursuant to the Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Act 1981 to help them to recover from their workplace injury and return them to suitable and sustainable employment.
The Prescribed Amount is the maximum amount an injured worker can receive in terms of weekly payments for loss of earnings during the life of their claim. The Prescribed Amount is indexed annually based on changes in the Wage Price Index.
The Prescribed Amount for this coming financial year has increased by just under 1.37% from $221,891.00 to $224,921.00.
Workcover WA, the workers compensation regulatory authority in Western Australia has also reminded not-for-profit and charity organisations to review their workers’ compensation arrangements. Charged with the responsibility of overseeing and regulating the workers’ compensation and injury management scheme in Western Australia, the agency says there are serious consequences for organisations and their officers if the required insurance is not in place.
According to the agency, any individual, whether paid or as a volunteer, who fulfills a governing role for an organisation can be held personally liable for the costs of an uninsured workers’ compensation claim. These costs could total hundreds of thousands of dollars, so it is simply not worth the risk.
Additionally, workers’ compensation regulators may prosecute organisations and individuals for compliance breaches. In Western Australia, a penalty of $5,000 per worker could be imposed. Workers should take steps to remind their empoyer to arrange suitable workers compensation insurance to make sure they comply with the statutory requirements to maintain workers compensation insurance in Western Australia.
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