The COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) Bill 2020 passed both houses of Victorian Parliament last night and will now become law. Amongst other things, the Bill includes provisions which protect the rights of injured workers on weekly payments during the COVID-19 pandemic.
How does the COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) Bill 2020 change the law?
Injured workers are entitled to weekly payments up to 130 weeks as long as they continue to have an incapacity for their pre-injury employment. After 130 weeks the test becomes much stricter and most workers become ineligible to receive weekly payments.
Prior to the new Bill, WorkCover was required to provide 13 weeks' notice to an injured worker if their payments would be terminated after 130 weeks. For example, for a worker who has received almost 130 weeks of payments to have their weekly payments terminated on 1 April 2020, they would have been notified on or before 1 January 2020.
Now under the new Bill, WorkCover is required to provide long-term injured workers a notice period of 39 weeks instead of 13. This means that an injured worker will receive an additional 6 months, or 26 weeks of weekly payments.
For example, a worker who was notified on 1 January 2020 is now entitled to an additional 26 weeks despite having already received 13 weeks' notice. This takes them up to the 39 week total specified in the new Bill. This worker's payments will now terminate on 1 October 2020 instead of 1 April 2020.
Who qualifies for the additional payments?
Any worker who continues to have an incapacity for their pre-injury employment and has received notice from 1 December 2019 onwards about the termination of their weekly payments after 130 weeks will qualify.
How long will the new law last?
This additional protection will end on 1 June 2020. At this point, any long-term injured worker who receives notification that their payments will be terminated will not be entitled to the additional six months. However the government has indicated this date may be extended if necessary.
Where can I go to get further information?
If you believe you are impacted by the new Bill, or if you have received notification your payments will be terminated, you should contact Redlich's Work Injury Lawyers on (03) 9321 9988 for a free initial consultation.