Additional Compensation for Certain Work-related Injuries or Illnesses

24 April 2018

The Public Service Association (PSA) has achieved Award changes to provide income protection for workers seriously injured at work in certain circumstances. The Award variations were approved in the South Australian Employment Tribunal (SAET) on 20 April 2018 and will apply retrospectively to cover any eligible injury sustained from 30 September 1987. A copy of the latest Awards can be found here.

Under the current ReturnToWork scheme (previously called Workcover – i.e. Workers Compensation) most workers who are unable to return to work following a work injury are excluded from receiving income support from the scheme after two years, and from receiving medical expenses after that.

All the Awards underpinning the new SA Modern Public Sector Enterprise Agreement (SAMPSEAS) and the Weekly Paid enterprise agreement have now been varied to provide income and medical expenses protection beyond two years to eligible workers with eligible injuries to which would have applied under the predecessor legislation to the ReturnToWork Act.

The variations to the Awards are consistent with those achieved in other public sector areas, including SA Police.

“Eligible worker” means current and former workers (irrespective of when the former worker’s employment ceased) who have had a claim accepted under a compensation Act (but does not include workers who have had their employment lawfully terminated on the grounds of serious and wilful misconduct and/or criminal conduct).

“Eligible injury” means an injury arising out of the course of the worker attending work in accordance with their employment, or performing the work for which they are employed. The injury must have resulted from conduct directed at the worker that is or appears to be a criminal offence, or which occurred as a direct and immediate result of conduct that is or appears to be a criminal offence, or which has occurred in other circumstances where the worker is placed in a dangerous situation. Psychiatric injuries are eligible only if they are caused as a consequence of a specific incident or incidents.

The matter of income protection for workers seriously injured in the service of their community has been under consideration for some time. Following representations from unions including the PSA the former government wrote to the PSA in September 2016 confirming that benefits additional to the current work injury legislation would be applied in certain circumstances. Since then negotiations have been focussed on giving effect to that commitment, starting with basic principles being included in the new SAMPSEAS and Weekly Paid agreements. The Award variations provide a higher level of detail on the implementation and the operations of those principles.

Terms negotiated in the new SAMPSEAS 2017 provide that an Award variation in relation to income and injury protection takes precedence over the enterprise agreement.