Changes to NT Workers Compensation
Jun 25, 2015
As of 1st July 2015, there are changes to the workers compensation legislation in the Northern Territory; the first of two bills that will improve how the scheme works and ensure its long term viability.
All business should ensure their current insurance policies comply with the new scheme; and if you are unsure talking to your insurance broker or provider would be advised. For us at Tropical Business Solutions AFA Insurance Darwin have been outstanding at looking after our needs, and are great at handling your whole of business insurance coverage solutions.
The changes include the following, and are taken from http://www.worksafe.nt.gov.au/
First Bill Changes – Effective from July 1st 2015
Legislation name change
The name of the legislation has changed to Return to Work Act and Regulations. The change is to reflect the primary objective of the legislation, which is to assist injured workers to return to work.
Presumptive legislation for firefighters and volunteers
Presumptive legislation has been introduced to make it easier for firefighters and volunteer firefighters to claim workers compensation if they are diagnosed with one of the 12 cancers listed in the legislation schedule. This change recognises that fire fighters are at greater risks of developing certain types of cancers as a result of exposure to hazardous substances while performing fire fighting activities.
Definition of worker
The definition of worker has been aligned with the PAYG definition used by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). This change will make it easier for employers and workers to identify who is covered for workers compensation.
Increased period of compensation for older workers
This change recognised that Territorians are staying in the workforce beyond the pension age. The period of compensation for workers aged 67 years or older has increased from 26 weeks to 104 weeks, providing older workers with a more reasonable level of financial protection should they get injured at work.
Five year cap on benefits for less serious injuries
Under this change, workers who suffer a less serious injury will be limited to five years of compensation, with a maximum additional year for medical and other costs. This change does not affect workers who have suffered a more serious injury and have been evaluated as having a permanent impairment of 15% or higher. These workers will still be entitled to compensation payments until pension age.
Increase in death and funeral benefits
The death benefit for the dependants of a deceased worker will increase from 260 times to 364 times the average weekly earnings. Based on the 2015 average weekly earnings figure of $1,417.20, the death benefit will increase from $368,472 to $515,860.
Dependants of a deceased worker will also be able to access a new benefit which provides psychological and financial counselling.
Assessment of stroke and heart attack compensation claims
Compensation will no longer be provided for stroke or heart attacks that are caused by degenerative diseases or lifestyle choices. Compensation will be paid if it is established that a person's employment is the real, proximate or effective cause of the disease.
Capping the calculation for normal weekly earnings
During the first 26 weeks when a worker is unable to work, compensation payments are paid at the injured workers normal weekly earnings. After 26 weeks, the compensation payments are reduced to 75% of the injured workers normal weekly earnings.
From 1 July 2015, the calculation of compensation payments after 26 weeks will be capped at 250% of the average weekly earnings*. This means the maximum weekly compensation payment available after 26 weeks is based on a normal weekly earnings cap of $3,543.00 for 2015.
* The average weekly earnings figure is determined by the Australia Bureau of Statistics and is the level of average earnings in the Northern Territory. The figure is used to calculate certain workers compensation benefits and is updated annually.
Clarification on when compensation payments are reduced to 75% of normal weekly earnings
The legislation has been amended to clarify that compensation payments to an injured an injured worker are reduced to 75% of their normal weekly earnings after receiving a total of 26 weeks of compensation payments, rather than the period of 26 weeks from the date they were injured.
Second bill changes - TBA
Information on the legislation changes contained in the second bill will be updated once the bill has passed Parliament.
Tropical Business Solutions
Director at Tropical Business Solutions.