July 2012

Workers Compensation Update #1 - Which 2012 amendments are now operating?

TOPIC: Which Amendments Are Now Operating?

NEW LEGISLATION: Workers Compensation Legislation Amendment Act 2012   (Assented on 27/06/2012 - Act No 53 of 2012)

REFERENCE: Section 2 of the Amendment Act


Section 2 of the Amendment Act (shown below) tells you which Schedules commence on the date of assent (i.e. 27 June 2012):

"2  Commencement
(1) This Act commences on a day or days to be appointed by proclamation, except as provided by subsection (2).
(2) The following provisions of this Act commence on the date of assent:
(a) Schedule 2 (Amendments relating to lump sum compensation),
(b) Schedule 3 (Amendments relating to damages for nervous shock),
(c) Schedule 4 (Amendments relating to medical and related expenses), except Schedule 4 [1],
(d) Schedule 5 (Amendments relating to journey claims),
(e) Schedule 6 (Amendments relating to heart attack and stroke),
(f) Schedule 7 (Amendments relating to disease injuries),
(g) Schedule 9 (Amendments relating to insurer licensing and transfer of claims),
(h) Schedule 12 (Amendments relating to savings and transitional provisions).
Note. Schedule 12 provides for some amendments to have operation on and from 19 June 2012."

In summary, Schedules 2-7 and 9 and 12 (except Schedule 4[1]) commenced on the date of assent on 27 June 2012.   Note: Schedule 12 does provide for some amendments to take effect from 19 June 2012.

Therefore, the amendments relating to lump sum compensation*, nervous shock claims, medical and related expenses (except the new section 59A)+, journey claims, heart attack and stroke, and disease, all commenced on 27 June 2012.

* The lump sum claims amendments (Schedule 2) apply to claims made on or after 19 June 2012 (under the transitional provisions).

  • The new section 59A (which will commence on the date of proclamation) says that medical expenses compensation is not payable more than 12 months after a claim for an injury was first made unless weekly payments are or have been paid, and is not payable more than 12 months after a worker ceased to be entitled to weekly payments - except in the case of a seriously injured worker (more than 30% WPI).

The rest of the medical expenses compensation amendments commenced on 27 June but WorkCover Guidelines are still required before some of them (such as the new sections 60(2A) and (2C)) will have much practical impact.

Insurers should apply these new laws to all claims from 27 June - subject to the transitional provisions - which also commenced on 27 June.

The following Schedules have not yet commenced:

  • 1 (Amendments relating to weekly payments)
  • 4[1] (The new section 59A - discussed above)
  • 8 (Relating to commutations)
  • 10 (Relating to the WorkCover Independent Review Officer) and
  • 11 (Miscellaneous Amendments including amendments to s74 of the 1998 Act and the amendments to s341 on costs whereby each party is to bear their own costs in relation to a compensation claim).

In summary, Schedules 1, 4[1], 8, 10 and 11 of the Amendment Act will commence on the date of proclamation (which has not yet occurred).  Proclamation is expected to take place within the next few weeks or months, with the possible exception of the costs amendments.

Author: Mark Underwood