Last year, the Victorian Government introduced a bill to Parliament which, if passed, would provide additional support to workers who have sustained a psychological injury.
The bill sets out a “provisional payments scheme” which would allow workers to receive funding for psychological treatment while their WorkCover claims are being processed.
Currently, on average, it takes 27 days for insurers to process WorkCover claims for psychological injuries compared to just seven days for physical injuries. Usually, while a WorkCover claim is being processed, a worker will have to fund their own medical treatment and seek reimbursement from the insurer at a later date if their WorkCover claim is accepted. If workers cannot afford the cost of this treatment upfront, they will often have to delay treatment until they receive notification that their WorkCover claim has been accepted. This can result in workers not receiving treatment as soon as their symptoms begin to present, which is often when they need it most.
As it currently stands, the provisional payments scheme will require employers to notify their insurers of WorkCover claims for psychological injuries within three business days, and then insurers to determine whether the worker is eligible for provisional payments within two business days. Self-insurers will similarly have five business days to determine whether or not a worker is entitled to provisional payments.
The bill states that workers will be entitled to provisional payments so long as the claim is for a mental injury and the insurer has not previously determined a WorkCover claim relating to the same injury and circumstances.
If the worker is determined to be entitled to provisional payments, the payments will last either:
- until the date that their WorkCover claim is accepted, after which time they will have an entitlement to medical and like expenses under their WorkCover claim; or
- for 13 weeks, even if their WorkCover claim is rejected.
If the bill is passed, the provisional payment scheme will come into effect from 1 January 2022.
If you would like more information about this or would like to lodge a claim, contact our team of lawyers on (03) 9321 9988.