Changes to the Workers Compensation Scheme

Return to Work SA - Change Ahead

Changes to the Workers Compensation Scheme

The recent announcement that the Return to Work SA (formerly known as ‘Workcover’) scheme is now fully funded is welcome news in a State of small to medium sized enterprises. It is also a timely reminder to consider the new changes and the impact that the Return to Work SA Scheme may have on your life as an employee or employer.

When the Bill for the Return to Work reforms was introduced to Parliament, the responsible Minister claimed that the existing schemes left in South Australia were the worst back to work outcomes in the country. The changes to the scheme are aimed at improving outcomes for both employers and employees.

What is Return to Work SA

Return to Work SA is a government run scheme. The scheme facilitates the management of workplace injuries in South Australia to assist both employers and employees.

If you are an employer, you are a required to register with the scheme (subject to some exemption which may be found on the Workcover Corporation website) as well as pay a premium each year to fund the scheme. The premium is based on the estimated remuneration amount you business will pay for the upcoming period.

If you are an employee and are injured at work, you may be entitled to compensation from the scheme. This may include payment of medical costs, as well as rehabilitation assistance to return to work.

What are the Changes to the Scheme?

Other than the name change, the average premiums for employers will drop from 2.75% to 1.95%. This will take effect from 1 July 2015 when the new scheme commences.

The scheme is now fully funded with no unfunded liability which is considered to be the result of substantial legislative changes. In fact, it is the result of an entirely new Act to the Scheme. It is thought that the shifted focus of the scheme, which prioritises strategies to get employees back to work, will have an considerable impact on how the scheme functions. For example, if you are an injured worker, continued receipt of your income may be dependent on your active participation in your recovery and return to work plans.

The controversial medical review panels are also being scrapped.

Most importantly, the pension for life model will be replaced with a 2 year limit for work accident compensation. There are still exceptions for more serious injuries which require ongoing management. Such exceptions may apply if an injury is assessed as having more than a 30% or more whole person impairment.

What Can Pinnacle HR Offer?

Our Principal Work Cover Consultant will be conducting information sessions in regard to the changes to the Return to Work Act.

If you have any queries about the changes to the Act please contact Pinnacle HR on 08 8232 2820 or click here for upcoming sessions.

Prepared by Sarah Bartholomeusz from You Legal.