Workmen’s Compensation Amendments

Attached is a copy of the Workmen’s Compensation (Amendment) Act 2015 which was tabled, debated and passed by Parliament all on the same day – 8 July 2015. It came into force on 17 July 2015, the date it was officially published in the Gazette.

Under the Workmen’s Compensation Act, an employer is liable to pay compensation to a ‘workman’ (or in the case of death, his or her dependants) for any personal injury or death by accident that arises out of or in the course of employment, regardless of fault. Compensation entitlements were last increased in 1994.

Among other things, the Amendment Act-

  • extends compensation eligibility to de facto partners
  • increases the compensation payable to a worker’s dependants upon the worker’s death from $24,000 to $50,000
  •  increases the compensation for permanent total incapacity from $32,000 to $67,000 (and consequentially increases the compensation payable for lesser degrees of permanent incapacity, which are assessed as a percentage of total incapacity)
  • allows a Labour Inspector to issue a fixed penalty notice where an employer fails to report an injury to/death of a workman and then fails to comply with a demand to make a report. The penalties range from $500 to $10,000 depending on the employer’s “consolidated revenue in a financial year.”
  • makes it an offence punishable by a maximum fine of $50,000 if an employer does not pay the fixed penalty in accordance with the notice (this appears to conflict with the prescribed wording of a fixed penalty notice which gives an employer the right to decline to pay the penalty and have the matter determined in court)
  • also makes it an offence punishable by a maximum fine of $50,000 if an employer does not comply with a Labour Inspector’s directive to provide documentation on the employer’s consolidated revenue for the previous year.

The increased entitlements should apply only to work-related injuries suffered on or after 17 July 2015.

The increases are likely to be covered by existing insurance policies but may result in higher premiums at the next renewal. Employers should, however, consult with their broker or insurer if they are uncertain.

Contact

Contact Munro Leys personnel Jon Apted (Partner) or Nicholas Barnes (Partner) for further information on this Alert.

Disclaimer

The information and opinions in this Legal Alert are for general information purposes only. They are not intended as specific legal or other professional advice and should not be relied upon or treated as a substitute for specific advice. Munro Leys can accept no responsibility for any loss arising from reliance on the general information contained in this Legal Alert.