The Victorian Government has recently announced its plan for “WorkCover Modernisation” to ensure it is financially sustainable into the future and meets the needs of modern workplaces.
It is important for employers to be familiar with the changes and ensure that workplace polices and processes are updated accordingly.
The WorkCover reforms include:
Premiums – The average premium rate will move to 1.8% of remuneration.
Establishing Return to Work Victoria – New initiatives will be piloted, designed to improve return to work and prevention outcomes. Return to Work Victoria will also provide injured workers with training and job placement pathways.
Eligibility for mental injury claims – Workers who experience stress and burnout will no longer be able to access weekly benefits from WorkCover. Instead, they will be eligible for provisional payments for 13 weeks to cover medical treatment, plus enhanced psychosocial supports and return to work or training pathways.
Eligibility for claims lasting longer than two-and-a-half years – A “Whole Person Impairment” of greater than 20% will be required alongside the capacity test for a worker to continue receiving weekly benefits after two and a half years.
Planned eligibility changes will come into effect in 2024 and will only apply prospectively.
WorkCover will continue to support workers who make claims for mental injuries arising from workplace harassment, bullying and traumatic events, such as those experienced by frontline workers.
Prevention is key
Return to Work Victoria will support employers to prevent injuries and help them intervene early to address emerging mental health concerns.
Please note that under Work, Health and Safety (WHS) laws and the new Respect at Work Act 2022, employers already have a duty to eliminate or minimise psychosocial hazards in the workplace. It is important for employers to review and update their risk management processes and regularly train staff on the organisations policies and processes.
Communicating with your staff
Under WHS laws, employers have a duty to consult with their workers on matters that impact their health and safety, such as undertaking risk management processes and decisions, proposing or making changes that may affect WHS, or doing any other thing prescribed by WHS regulations. In addition, whenever you make changes to your workplace policies or processes, it is important to communicate these with your staff.
As the employer, you are responsible for ensuring that your communication plan is effective i.e. that your messaging has been received and understood. In this case, it is advisable to:
Communicate with your staff both verbally and in writing regarding the changes to WorkCover, any changes to your polices and processes, and any actions you are taking to ensure a safe and healthy workplace.
Provide ample opportunity for your staff to ask questions, give feedback or voice their concerns.
Keep a record of these communications.
WorkPlacePLUS can support you to meet your employer obligations and foster a mentally healthy workplace. For more information, please contact us today.