The Workplace Safety Legislation and Matters Amendment Act 2022 was recently enacted on 16 March 2022. Amongst a number of other enforcement and technical amendments, substantial changes to workers’ rights have been made in a number of areas.
We explore the most relevant to our clients below.
Entitlements for families of deceased workers
To improve support for the families of deceased workers, four key changes have been made:
- Child pensions will now be extended to 25 for children with a disability. Previously, this pension ended at 16, unless a full-time student or apprentice.
- Provisional payments can now be made to guardians on behalf of minors or those with a disability.
- Household help will continue for 6 months if:
- a worker dies as a result of a work-related injury; and
- where they were receiving household help through WorkCover prior to their death; and
- if the death appears to be related to the compensable injury.
- Costs incurred for a funeral outside of Australia can now be compensated up to $15,230. This includes costs for family members to travel overseas to attend the funeral of the deceased worker.
Workers receiving payments while living overseas
Workers living overseas were previously paid on a quarterly basis. These workers will now have their weekly payments paid in the same way as those living within Australia.
Silicosis and silica-related diseases
Workers suffering from silicosis and other similar work related diseases will have some of the strict requirements around stability removed in respect of making a lump sum claim.
Going forward, a worker does not need to prove the injury has stabilised to make a lump sum claim such as an impairment benefits claim or common law claim. Further, if their condition deteriorates after resolution of a lump sum claim, the worker can now make a subsequent application. A lung transplant will now be a deemed 30% impairment at a minimum. A claim for common law damages can also be reviewed in circumstances where another serious silica-related condition has developed after the initial award of damages.
Also of significance is the expansion of family counselling services for those family members of workers with an eligible progressive disease, with up to $6,820 available for counselling services for family members.
These laws will come into effect for workers with silicosis who apply for damages after the commencement of the Act, and for workers, diagnosed on or after 1 June 2016, who make an impairment claim or seek family counselling.
Other progressive diseases
As outlined in the Firefighters’ Presumptive Rights Compensation Scheme, the provisions removing the requirement for the injury to have stabilised for an impairment claim will also be open to some occupational cancers. However, WorkSafe or the self-insurer will need to be satisfied that the disease will further deteriorate and is unlikely to stabilise. These laws will retrospectively apply for those workers diagnosed on or after 1 June 2016.
If you have any questions about the recent changes and how it might impact your payments, contact our legal team on (03) 9321 9988.