The Andrews Government has announced new Legislation that will slightly increase benefits for families who have suffered a workplace death of a loved one. The WorkSafe Legislation Amendment Bill was introduced into Parliament last week and will allow family members travel expenses for attending upon a hospital where a loved one is seriously injured or to a funeral if they are travelling more than 100km from their residence. A modest improvement in benefits for families going through such traumatic events.
Importantly, the Government has also clarified that casual loadings are to be included in Pre-Injury Average Weekly Earnings calculations for injured workers. The labour market has seen a significant increase in casual employment opportunities over the last 15 years and therefore more injured workers are coming from casual work arrangements. It has been our experience that some WorkSafe Insurers have been deducting loadings from casual rates of pay when calculating a workers entitlement (and rate) of weekly payments and would just use the base rate of pay when calculating payments. This would often lead to a serious shortfall in wages received by injured workers, particularly given WorkSafe rules pay only 80% of an injured workers wage after 13 weeks of incapacity.
As this amendment only clarifies the law, rather than amends it, any injured workers who have been under paid their weekly payments due to the WorkSafe Insurer not adding casual loadings to their payments will be able to contact their Insurer and ask for back pay. Arnold Dallas McPherson offers to do this free of charge for any casual workers hurt by this.
Following a recent Supreme Court Decision some have thought that it may be possible to subpoena a Medical Panel member to Court to assist in explaining a decision of a Medical Panel. For absolute clarity this Legislation makes it clear that a Medical Panel member cannot be compelled to give evidence before any Court in relation to their role on a Medical Panel.
The new Legislation also improves the flexibility for WorkSafe Inspectors to adequately enforce breaches of OHS Laws, by allowing for a longer period to issue prosecutions and providing for electronic service of Notices.