Proposed amendments to the Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Act 1981: COVID-19 Response & removal of termination date

A bill was introduced to the Parliament of Western Australia on 24 June 2020 that seeks to amend the WA Act, entitled the Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Amendment (COVID-19 Response) Bill 2020.

 

COVID-19 Response

The Bill addresses a small number of priority issues in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The McGowan government has stated that it intends to amend the workers’ compensation legislation to protect our Western Australian health care workers. The media release states:

“Many essential health care workers are working in difficult circumstances and are at a higher risk of exposure to contracting COVID-19. The Workers' Compensation and Injury Management Act 1981 will be amended to establish a presumption of work-related injury for specified diseases suffered in specified classes of employment. Regulations will address health care workers suffering COVID-19 as a priority, this means workers will not be required to go through lengthy and costly claim investigations to prove they contracted COVID-19 at work.”

Given the current COVID-19 climate within WA, and the low cases of community transmission, we are hopeful that these provisions may not be required to be used by workers in the future, but time will tell.

Termination date

Most importantly to insurers, the McGowan government has indicated that it remains committed to the rewrite of the workers' compensation legislation.

We note that the aforementioned Bill intends to also remove the arbitrary ‘Termination Day’ that constrains a worker’s ability to pursue common law damages, pursuant to section 93K of the current legislation.

This amendment may have a significant impact to our industry, and we will continue to update our clients as to the progress of this Bill on a frequent basis.

As always, if you have any questions concerning the above, please contact our Workers' Compensation team for assistance.

Contributors

Bel Cizeika Senior Associate