Workers Compensation: Your Guide to Weekly Payments

workers compensation

KEY TAKE-OUTS

Suffering a workplace injury can be a stressful and difficult experience. It is important to know your rights and entitlements for peace of mind if something was to happen to you at work. In this blog, we cover your statutory rights to weekly compensation.


A ‘worker’ who has suffered an ‘injury’ at work can pursue the no-fault benefits provided in the Workers Compensation Act 1987 and the Workplace Injury Management and Workers Compensation Act 1998.

A ‘worker’ is defined in section 4 of the Workplace Injury Management and Workers Compensation Act 1998 as ‘a person who has entered into or works under a contract of service or a training contract with an employer’.

An ‘injury’ is also defined in section 4 of the Workplace Injury Management and Workers Compensation Act 1998 to mean ‘a personal injury arising out of or in the course of employment’ and includes ‘a disease… or the aggravation, acceleration, exacerbation or deterioration of any disease’.

For an injury to be compensable, employment must be a substantial contributing factor to the injury. For disease injuries, employment must be the main contributing factor to the development or aggravation, acceleration, exacerbation or deterioration of the injury.

I Have Been Injured At Work, What Now?

If you have been injured at work, you may be entitled to:

  • Payments of weekly compensation (for lost wages) for periods of time during which you are totally or partially incapacitated as result of your work injury;
  • Payment of reasonable medical and treatment expenses including medication and travelling to and from treatment providers; and
  • Payment of lump-sum compensation in relation to any permanent impairment or permanent loss of use of the injured parts of your body.

If a worker has died as a result of a workplace injury, a spouse or dependant may be entitled to make a claim for death benefits and funeral expenses.

Weekly Payments

Weekly payments help to cover an injured worker’s lost earnings due to their injury. Payments of weekly compensation are determined according to a worker’s pre-injury average weekly earnings (PIAWE). This is generally calculated by reference to the 52 weeks of employment before the date of injury, however the relevant time period can be altered in certain circumstances.

There is also a maximum weekly compensation amount, which is capped and index in April and October each year. The current maximum amount until 31 March 2022 is $2,282.90.

An injured worker’s entitlement to weekly payments is subject to change depending on the number of hours they work, how long they have been in receipt of weekly payments and their capacity for work.

A non-exempt worker’s weekly entitlements are summarised in the following table:

Entitlement PeriodWork CapacityAmount
First Entitlement Period
(0-13 weeks)
No work capacity95% of PIAWE OR the maximum weekly compensation amount
First Entitlement Period
(0-13 weeks)
Some work capacityThe lesser of 95% of PIAWE less the worker’s current weekly earnings OR the maximum weekly compensation amount less the worker’s current weekly earnings
Second Entitlement Period
(14-130 weeks)
No work capacityThe lesser of 80% of PIAWE OR the maximum weekly compensation amount
Second Entitlement Period
(14-130 weeks)
Working less than 15 hours per weekThe lesser of 80% of PIAWE less the worker’s current weekly earnings OR the maximum weekly compensation amount less the worker’s current weekly earnings
Second Entitlement Period
(14-130 weeks)
Working 15 hours or more per weekThe lesser of 95% of PIAWE less the worker’s current weekly earnings OR the maximum weekly compensation amount less the worker’s current weekly earnings
Third Entitlement Period
(131 – 260 weeks)
No work capacity80% of PIAWE OR the maximum weekly compensation amount
Third Entitlement Period
(131 – 260 weeks)
Working less than 15 hoursFor workers that do not have high needs, payments will cease
Third Entitlement Period
(131 – 260 weeks)
Working 15 hours or more per weekThe lesser of 80% of PIAWE less the worker’s current weekly earnings OR the maximum weekly compensation amount less the worker’s current weekly earnings
Fourth Entitlement Period (Beyond 260 weeks)Benefits will cease except for seriously injured workers (<30% permanent impairment), OR for workers with greater than 20% permanent impairment who have no capacity or are working 15 hours or more and earning a specified sum per week will receive the lesser of 80% of PIAWE less the worker’s current weekly earnings (if any) OR the maximum weekly compensation amount less the worker’s current weekly earnings.

An injured worker’s entitlements will cease at the end of the Second Entitlement Period unless:

  • The worker has no work capacity indefinitely; or
  • The worker is working more than 15 hours per week and is earning at least $155 per week and is unable to increase how much they work/earn indefinitely
  • The worker is a ‘worker with high needs

An injured worker’s weekly payments will also cease if the worker reaches the Commonwealth retirement age.

What is a Certificate of Capacity?

It is necessary throughout the life of a worker’s compensation claim for the injured worker to obtain certificates of capacity from their treating medical practitioner. The certificate of capacity describes the nature of the worker’s injury/illness, the worker’s capacity for work which determines the amount of weekly entitlements to be paid, and any medical treatment that the worker may require for the treatment of their workplace injury.

What About Superannuation?

Generally, superannuation is not payable while an injured worker is receiving workers compensation, however, there are some exceptions. These include:

  1. If a worker is performing some work, they will be paid superannuation entitlements for the hours in which they actually work; or
  2. If the worker is covered by a Modern Award which contains provisions dealing with superannuation contributions for when an employee is absent from work due to injury or a work-related illness

Have You Been Injured at Work? This is What You Need to Do.

  1. Notify your employer that you have sustained a work-related injury or illness.
  2. Lodge an injury claim form on the insurer, as soon as possible, but within 6 months of your date of injury. If it has been more than 6 months since your workplace injury, we recommend that you seek legal advice before making a claim as exceptions can be made in certain circumstances.
  3. Within 7 days of the insurer being notified of your injury, you will receive provisional weekly compensation unless the insurer denies liability or applies a reasonable excuse not to commence provisional payments.
  4. You should obtain Work Cover certificates from your treating medical practitioner to determine your work capacity. Ensure that you retain all receipts and out of pocket expenses for medications or medical treatments for your injury.
  5. Within 21 days the insurer will accept provisional liability for weekly payments up to 12 weeks, or accept liability, or dispute liability.
  6. If the insurer disputes your claim, we recommend that you seek legal advice to have your matter internally reviewed and, if necessary, refer your matter to the Personal Injury Commission for determination of the dispute.

ABOUT ELLY MANOE:

elly manoe new

Elly joined Coutts in August 2021 in our Personal Injury, Employment, Criminal & Family Law teams; and is based in our Wollongong office.

Elly is passionate about Personal Injury CompensationFamily Law & Criminal Law and prides herself on providing a high level of service to all of her clients.  From entering the workforce at a young age in a family-owned business, Elly’s strength is customer service. Elly has a strong work ethic and has always progressed through to management roles; excelling when working to deadlines in a high paced environment.


For further information please don’t hesitate to contact:

Elly Manoe
Lawyer
info@couttslegal.com.au
1300 268 887

Contact Coutts today.

This blog is merely general and non-specific information on the subject matter and is not and should not be considered or relied on as legal advice. Coutts is not responsible for any cost, expense, loss or liability whatsoever to this blog, including all or any reliance on this blog or use or application of this blog by you.