Unions NSW has welcomed the Baird Government’s acknowledgement of past error through the partial restoration of benefits to injured workers, but says more must be done to restore decency to the workers compensation scheme.

Unions NSW Secretary Mark Lennon said the restoration of longer access to medical benefits is a good step, but still leaves workers in a position where they will be cut off from medical support when there is an ongoing need. He also noted the families of those killed at work will take some comfort from a 50 per cent increase in death and funeral benefits.

However, Mr Lennon also noted significant deficiencies in the new program. 

“It is good that the government has acknowledged it got it wrong in 2012 with its devastating cuts to workers compensation,” Mr Lennon said.

“Yet while the partial reversal is welcome, it does not go far enough. The Baird Government has not restored journey claims, and this leaves at-fault NSW workers without any coverage if they are injured on the way to or from work.

“The government has also failed to acknowledge the injustice served by the work capacity process, where insurers assess their own decisions to cut workers pay, and injured workers are prohibited from gaining access to legal assistance.

“Workers working up to and beyond retirement age still will still be forced onto discounted income and medical support, which hardly encourages people to work longer. 

“Half the cost of the workers compensation scheme goes to management - so it is deeply unfair that it is injured workers will still be burdened with the lion share of the cuts. 

“We are calling on the NSW Government to support the Upper House inquiry to review the consequences of the 2012 workers compensation cuts, so more work can be done in this area to support injured workers.

“We understand business wants premiums to go down, but any falls must be based on reduced injuries and better claims management, not slashing benefits.”

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