The following legislative amendments have recently come into effect.

Division 4A of the Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Act 1981 provides for a rebuttable presumption that supports claims by firefighters employed by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services who contract one of 12 specified cancers.  These special arrangements came into effect on 13 November 2013.

Part 4 of the Firefighters and Emergency Volunteers Legislation Amendment (Compensation) Act 2016 came into operation on 21 January 2017 and expands the current presumption under Division 4A. The presumption now covers:

  1. Former firefighters employed by Department of Fire and Emergency Services;
  2. Current and former firefighters employed by the State such as Department of Parks and Wildlife and Forest Products Commission firefighters.

A number of amendments have been made to clarify the application of the laws to current and former State employed firefighters.

This fact sheet outlines the presumptive laws.

The Amendment Act can be accessed here. The Explanatory Memorandum for the Amendment Act can be accessed here.

Regulatory amendments have changed the declaration required from workers residing outside of Western Australia and clarified aspects of the declaration process and timeframes.

Key changes include:

  • a revised declaration form that is designed and structured to capture the key information requirements about the worker’s identity and capacity for work;
  • removal of the requirement for the worker and medical practitioner’s signature to be witnessed by a person with authority to administer an oath;
  • worker identity to be verified by the certifying medical practitioner at the time of the assessment through sighting of an official document such as a passport;
  • flexibility for workers to send the declaration at any time within each 3 month period they are residing outside Western Australia;
  • linking the 3 monthly intervals to the date the declaration was sent by the worker rather than its receipt by the employer/ insurer.
  • flexibility for the declaration to be sent electronically, by post or in person.

To access the declaration form click here.

An Info Sheet provides further information for workers and medical practitioners about the declaration requirements.

The regulations as printed in the Government Gazette can be found here.

A new regulation has been effected which expands the definition of ‘industrial award’ in the Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Act 1981:

3A.  Instruments under Commonwealth laws prescribed for definition of industrial award in Act

For the purposes of paragraph (d) of the definition of industrial award in section 5(1) of the Act, the following instruments are prescribed —

  1. a fair work instrument as defined in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Commonwealth) section 12;
  2. an award-based transitional instrument as defined in the Fair Work (Transitional Provisions and Consequential Amendments) Act 2009 (Commonwealth) Schedule 2 item 2 that continues in existence under Schedule 3 Part 2 of that Act.

The regulation confirms that workers covered by Commonwealth instruments are ‘award’ workers for the purpose of calculating weekly compensation payments. This is consistent with common practice and does not have any material impact on payments made to workers.

The Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Conciliation Rules 2011 were amended on 1 July 2015. One of the amendments introduced a new rule (Rule 28 A) to allow Conciliation Service dispute related documentation to be lodged via email.

28A. Lodging by email

(1)    The Director —

  1. may approve and publish an email address for the service of documents under this rule; and
  2. may determine and publish requirements as to the permissible format and the maximum size of documents which may be lodged under this rule.

(2)    An email by which documents are lodged under this rule must —

  1. state the sender’s name, postal address and email address; and
  2. state a telephone number through which the sender can be contacted; and
  3. list and describe the documents being lodged by the email.

(3)    Documents lodged under this rule must comply with any published requirements as to form and size.

(4)   A person who lodges a document under this rule must —

  1. create and retain for the duration of the conciliation proceedings a physical copy of the email and the documents lodged; and
  2. produce the items mentioned in paragraph (a) if required by the conciliation officer.

This rule permits documents to be lodged via conciliation.docs@workcover.wa.gov.au. This is the only email address approved for this purpose.

Conditions to meet when lodging documents by email are outlined on the Workers’ Compensation Conciliation Service page. Documents not complying with these conditions will be returned to the sender and considered to have not been lodged.

There has been no change to Rule 7(2) which requires documents submitted in accordance with the Rules to be copied and sent out to other parties to the dispute.