The Centre for Workforce Futures, based at Macquarie University, has released their Third report titled The Impact on Injured Workers of Changes to NSW Workers' Compensation. You can download a copy here. The Report particularly focuses on the issue of return to work and found the following based on a number of return to work case studies:

  • Failure to establish return to work coordinators or contact person
  • Lack of support from employer during recovery process (one Return to Work Coordinator called herself The Terminator)
  • Belittling, harassing and bullying comments and behaviour, particularly in relation to psychological injuries.
  • Disregard of injury management plan developed by medical professionals
  • Ultimatum – return to pre-injury duties or leave
  • Abrupt withdrawal of the return to work program before it was completed.
  • Imposition of harder duties than prior to injury

Other findings include:

  • Self-insurers blurring the lines between being employer and insurer, to the detriment of injured workers
  • Insurers are interested in minimising claims which leads to delays with approval of claims and treatment, preventing or stopping injured workers getting back to work
  • Re-training offered into careers that were demeaning and tokenistic
  • Journey claims fallen by 9,500 a year since cuts came in. That’s 38,000 who had a safety net withdrawn
  • Claims for heart attack accepted has fallen substantially (over 80%). The contestability of claims made has also increased.
  • Downward trend in all claims (long claims >12 weeks and less). Over 20,000 less claims every year.
  • Return to work rates are stable since the cuts, although there is disagreement about the definition of return to work which may mask a fall in return to work rates.
  • Infringement notices issued by WorkCover have dramatically declined from 620 in 2007/8 to 55 in 2013/14 with the volume of fines reducing by nearly three quarters from $8.6million to $2.2million. Proactive workplace visits have increased. Reactive workplace visits have declined.

 

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