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Workers Compensation

Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance providing wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured in the course of employment in exchange for mandatory relinquishment of the employee’s right to sue his or her employer for the tort of negligence. The tradeoff between assured, limited coverage and lack of recourse outside the worker compensation system is known as “the compensation bargain”.

While plans differ among jurisdictions, provision can be made for weekly payments in place of wages (functioning in this case as a form of disability insurance), compensation for economic loss (past and future), reimbursement or payment of medical and like expenses (functioning in this case as a form of health insurance), and benefits payable to the dependents of workers killed during employment (functioning in this case as a form of life insurance).

As Australia experienced a relatively influential labour movement in the late 19th and early 20th century, statutory compensation was implemented very early in Australia. Each territory has its own legislation and its own governing body.

A typical example is WorkSafe Victoria, which manages Victoria’s workplace safety system. Its responsibilities include helping employees avoid workplace injuries occurring, enforcement of Victoria’s occupational and safety laws, provision of reasonably priced workplace injury insurance for employers, assisting injured workers back into the workforce, and managing the workers’ compensation scheme by ensuring the prompt delivery of appropriate services and adopting prudent financial practices.[1]

Compensation Law in New South Wales has recently (2013) been overhauled by the State Government. In a push to speed up the process of claims and to reduce the amount of claims, a threshold of 11% WPI (Whole Person Impairment) was implemented.

Worker’s Compensation Regulators for each of the states and territories are as follows:

  • Australian Capital Territory – Work Safe Act
  • New South Wales – Work Cover NSW
  • Northern Territory – NT Work Safe
  • Queensland – The Workers’ Compensation Regulator (formerly Q-COMP)
  • South Australia – WorkCover SA
  • Tasmania – WorkCover Tasmania
  • Victoria – WorkSafe Victoria
  • Western Australia – WorkCover WA