Workers' Compensation - Extent of cover

The information provided below is a guide to the workers' compensation benefits provided under the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988. Please refer to the Act for a comprehensive schedule of benefits.

Weekly income replacement payments

Weekly income replacement payments are payable:

  • on the next normal payday; or
  • no later than 14 days after.

receipt of a claim (together with a Workers' Compensation Medical Certificate) by the employer.

Weekly payments are payable from the date of incapacity or 14 days before the claim was provided to the employer, whichever is later.

The amount payable is the greater of:

  • the "ordinary time rate of pay" which the worker was earning immediately prior to the period of incapacity; or
  • the average of the worker's weekly earnings over the previous year. This may include some allowances. Overtime is only included in certain circumstances.

It is advisable for agencies to check with the Fund Administration Agent, Jardine Lloyd Thompson Pty Ltd, regarding the calculation of weekly income replacement payments. The Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 requirements regarding paid holidays etc, are quite complex.

Unless the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Tribunal finds otherwise, weekly payments continue, provided that the worker continues to produce a Workers' Compensation Medical Certificate, for up to 9 years. This extends to 12 years for workers left with a permanent whole person impairment (WPI) of between 15% and 19%; to 20 years with a WPI between 20% and 29% and to age of retirement for WPI of 30% or more, or until the worker reaches 65 years old (unless the worker is 64 or older when injured, in which case payments continue for one year from the date of injury), but reduce over time in accordance with the following "step down" provisions:

  • 100% of the normal weekly payment for 26 weeks;
  • 90% of the normal weekly payment for weeks 27 to 78, inclusive; and
  • 80% of the normal weekly payment thereafter.

There may be changes to the step down rate in certain circumstances.

Note that injuries incurred prior to 1 July 2001 are subject to different rates.

The Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 includes a 'safety net' provision which ensures that, in most instances, an injured worker will not receive less than 70% of the 'basic salary'. As at 1 January 2017, this equated to $599.08 (70% of $855.83). This amount is adjusted with effect from 1 January of each calendar year, with the Minister publishing a notice in the Tasmanian Government Gazette outlining any new amount. This notice is generally, but not always, published before the start of the new calendar year.

Where a worker is able to undertake some form of employment (either part-time or in a less well-paid position), they may be entitled to have their weekly payments increased up to their pre-injury earnings. The Fund will only reimburse agencies for payments to which workers are entitled under the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988.

Recovery of weekly income replacement payments

Weekly income replacement payments are made by the employer on a 'without prejudice' basis, ie they are not an admission of liability. However, even if a claim is later successfully disputed by the employer, these payments are not recoverable from the worker unless:

  • the claim is fraudulent;
  • the worker obstructs or delays determination of the claim, and the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Tribunal later finds that there is no liability to pay the claim; or
  • the injury results from serious or wilful misconduct by the worker, or is intentionally self-inflicted.

Re-crediting sick leave, annual recreation leave and long service leave

If a worker takes sick leave, annual recreation leave or long service leave and the agency is subsequently found to be liable to pay weekly income replacement payments for that period:

  • the period is taken to a be a period during which the worker was receiving weekly income replacement payments; and
  • the worker's sick, annual or long service leave entitlements are to be re-credited.

Other benefits

The employer is liable for all reasonable expenses necessarily incurred by a worker as the result of an injury, including:

  • medical and other services, eg medical practitioners, hospital and rehabilitation services; and
  • travel to and from these services.

A worker is to be advised of the status of a claim within 28 days (whether a decision has been made to accept, or not to accept, liability and if no decision has been made, the reasons why and the steps the employer will take before making a decision). The employer has 84 days in which to dispute liability. To dispute a claim both the worker and the service provider must be served with a written notice stating that the employer disputes liability. The written notice to the worker must:

  • give the reasons why the employer disputes liability;
  • identify or attach any medical or other evidence the employer is relying upon to dispute liability;
  • inform the worker of his or her right to refer the matter to the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Tribunal (provided this is done within 60 days from the date the notice was served); and
  • state whether the employer disputes:
    • just this expense; or
    • all expenses of a specific kind, or incurred with a specific provider; or
    • all expenses.

The written notice to the service provider must outline the reasons why the employer disputes liability to pay the expense.

Settlement of a claim

Claims may be settled by agreement between the parties after two years. Any settlement prior to two years requires the approval of the Tribunal. See finalising a claim for information on settlement processes and requirements.

Lump sum payments

A worker suffering a permanent impairment may be entitled to receive a lump sum payment in addition to their normal weekly payments. The amount paid is based on an assessment of the level of impairment.

Payments to dependants

If a worker dies as a result of a work-related injury or disease, and a claim is received and liability accepted, the worker's dependants are entitled to:

  • a lump sum payment; and
  • weekly payments. The amount and length of time paid depend on the relationship of the dependant(s).

If liability is disputed, the employer must notify the dependant(s), in writing, and refer the matter to the Tribunal, within 28 days of receiving the claim for compensation. The notification to the dependant(s) must include information on the matters disputed and the reasons for disputing liability. These are the only matters that will be considered by the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Tribunal.

Common law damages

A worker may only sue an employer for damages under common law when the injury or disease results in a 20% or greater whole person impairment.

Statutory benefits will continue to be paid until the common law claim has been resolved. If the action is successful, the amount of damages awarded will be reduced by the amount of workers' compensation already paid. If an action is not successful, workers' compensation payments will continue as prescribed in legislation.

See the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 or the WorkCover Tasmania publication A Guide to Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation in Tasmania for detailed information on benefits.

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