WorkCover Weekly Payments in Abattoirs and Boning Rooms from 1 July 2012

Payments under WorkCover are relatively complex.

The payments levels are based on Pre Injury Average Weekly Earnings (PIAWE). The other factors that have a major impact on weekly payments are how long the worker has been receiving WorkCover weekly payments and the medical capacity of the injured worker.

PIAWE is calculated on earnings before the injury. It is the average earnings for 12 months before the injury with the employer. This includes the base rates and the average tally or production payments. If your injury/claim occurred after 5th April 2010 PIAWE is calculated differently if you have been promoted or gone to a position that pays higher during the 12 months before the injury. If you were a labourer for 8 months then a slaughterer for 4 months the calculation of the PIAWE is only averaged over the 4 months, if the injury happened when you were slaughtering.

If the worker who claimed WorkCover before 5th April 2010 received overtime or a shift penalty, regular overtime and penalties are part of the PIAWE for the first 26 weeks of payments. After 26 weeks of weekly payments the PIAWE used no longer includes regular overtime/penalties.

If the claim was made on or after 5th April 2010 the overtime and penalties remain in the PIAWE calculation for 52 weeks.

After 26 or 52 weeks the PIAWE is base rate plus average tally or production payments. 

There are additional factors if the worker works part time for a number of employers but that becomes so complicated that you need to check with the AMIEU Organiser. If a worker has only been there for less than 12 months, the period employed is the basis for calculation of the average.

The outline, described here, is for injuries that occurred after 12 November 1997. The weekly payments are on a different system for injuries that occurred before that. All figures given here are gross income (before tax).

In calculating which block of time it needs to be considered that if you are earning a full wage at work (even if you are doing ‘light duties’) the week doesn’t count even though you are providing certificates. BUT if you get WorkCover weekly payment for any time (one hour, one day or a whole week) it is counted as a week’s payment. A labourer who is injured and is still working full time even though the duties are modified is not receiving WorkCover weekly payments and so the clock is not ticking. However if the labourer was going to physiotherapy for one morning a week and is receiving WorkCover weekly payments for the four hours, each week is being counted.

The first 13 weeks

For the first 13 weeks a worker (who has WorkCover Certificates) is entitled to 95% of PIAWE to a maximum payment level if not working at all. If the worker (on certificates) is working during the first 13 weeks but is earning less than 95% of PIAWE, the worker is entitled to receive WorkCover to take pay up to 95% (to the maximum level). If the worker (on certificates) is earning more than 95% PIAWE each week during the first 13 weeks he or she is entitled to receive full pay. The 13 weeks does not get counted down unless there are WorkCover payments being paid in addition to wages.

For claims that were made before 5 April 2010 the maximum weekly payment is $1470. For claims that were made on or after 5 April 2010 the maximum weekly payment is $2000.

After 13 weeks

After 13 weeks of WorkCover payments there are changes to entitlements.A worker who has No Current Work Capacity is entitled to receive 80% of PIAWE, to a maximum of $1470 or $2000 per week. Obviously this worker is not able to work to earn any wages.

If the worker has a certificate that specifies a Current Work Capacity (that is he/she is not capable of pre injury employment but is capable of undertaking some form of duties, alternate or modified) payments are based on a formula that relates to 80% of PIAWE.

The employer must provide suitable alternative duties for a worker (with that certificate) for a year. If the worker is capable of returning to original employment the employer must return the worker to the original employment or equivalent employment. 

When a worker is at work on alternate duties the worker is paid for the duties being performed.  If the wages are as high as PIAWE, or higher, there is no WorkCover weekly payment. If the wages are less than the PIAWE there is an additional WorkCover payment. The formula on which the WorkCover payment is calculated is as follows:
80% of PIAWE is calculated, capped at $1470 or $2000 per week.
80% of wages being received is calculated i.e. Current Weekly Earnings (CWE).
80% of wages is taken from 80% of PIAWE (or the capped amount). The amount from this subtraction is the WorkCover Payment that the worker receives in addition to CWE.

If the worker has a certificate that specifies a Current Work Capacity (that is he/she is not capable of pre injury employment but is capable of undertaking some form of duties, alternate or modified) but the employer does not provide any suitable alternative duties, the worker receives 80% of PIAWE.

Employers who refuse to meet their obligations to provide suitable duties could face prosecution.

Examples:

A slaughterer's PIAWE was $1000 per week. On the return to work on suitable alternative duties the wages are $600 per week. The WorkCover payment is: 
                   80% of $1000=$800
                   80% of $ 600 =$480
WorkCover payment           =$320
The amount the slaughterer receives that week is $600 plus $320. That is payment of $920.

A boner's PIAWE was $1450 per week. On the return to work on suitable alternative duties the wages are $800 per week. The WorkCover payment is: 
                    80% of $1450  =$1160
                    80% of $800    =$640
WorkCover payment              =$520
The amount the boner receives that week is $800 plus $520. That is $1320.
 
A labourer's PIAWE was $800 per week. On the return to work on suitable alternate duties the wages are $500 per week. The WorkCover payment is:
                    80% of $800=$640
                    80% of $500=$400
WorkCover payment          =$240
The amount the labourer receives that week is $500 plus $240. That is $740.

Penalty rates and overtime drop out of PIAWE

Workers who, before the injury, were on an hourly rate with penalty rates for weekend work and/or evening shifts and those who worked regular overtime suffer a further drop when the Pre Injury Average Weekly earnings is adjusted to remove penalties and overtime. The percentages stay the same but the outcom is a drop in income.

For people who lodged the claim before 5 April 2010 this change happens after 26 weeks of weekly payments. Where the claim occurred after 5 April 2010 this drop will occurr after 52 weeks with weekly payments.

52 weeks

For the first 52 weeks of weekly payments the Accident Compensation system does not require any payment of superannuation by your employer. For workers whose injury occurred before 5 April 2010 the 9% superannuation payment only ever has to be paid on hours that are worked.

However for the workers whose injury occurred on or after 5th April 2010 and who have no capacity to work after 52 weeks, 9% of weekly payments is paid into superannuation. This continues while the person has no capacity and is in receipt of weekly payments.

After 130 weeks

After 130 weeks (or 104 weeks if your claim was lodged before 1 January 2005) most weekly payments are stopped. It is not impossible for payments to continue after 104 weeks but the person has to have No Capacity for the forseeable future, not just current.

If it can be proven that there is no chance of the person being able to return to any duties at all, in the forseeable future, the worker may continue to be paid 80% of PIAWE to the maximum of $1470 or $2000 a week.

If a worker has returned to work for more than 15 hours a week (but less than pre-injury hours without any overtime), and current weekly earnings are more than $166 per week and is working to their maximum capacity (i.e. they will never be able to work any more than they are) they can apply to have the 80% formula continue to apply. 

Indexation

The WorkCover weekly payments are indexed each year, 12 months after the injury. The percentage increase is announced by WorkCover on the first of July each year.

Make Up Pay

In addition to WorkCover payments the worker may be entitled to Make Up Pay. That is in accordance with Enterprise Bargaining Agreements or Federal Awards. If you receive tally most make up pay clauses only take your payments up to low tally.

People who are on Australian Workplace Agreements, AWAs are extremely likely not to get Make Up Pay. It is just one more area that workers on individual agreements are worse off.

How long a worker receives Make Up Pay depends on the collective agreement, it is usually 30 weeks or, in some cases, 39 weeks.