Starting weekly payments
Once you receive a worker’s claim for compensation, you must start making weekly payments of compensation if they have been certified as totally or partially incapacitated for work. There are two options:
Where the worker’s first pay day is within 14 days of lodging their claim, weekly payments must start on this pay day (if it is not reasonably practicable to do this, payment must be made no later than 14 days after you received the claim).
Where the worker’s first pay day is more than 14 days after lodging their claim, weekly payments must start on this pay day (this usually happens where workers are paid monthly).
Weekly payments are to be paid regardless of whether you dispute liability for the claim. They are sometimes called without prejudice payments, because the fact you make these payments cannot be used against you as an admission of liability.
If you believe liability should be disputed, discuss it with your insurer.
If the worker lodged their claim:
- within 14 days of their injury, weekly payments must be paid from the date of injury
- more than 14 days after their injury, they are only entitled to be back paid weekly payments to 14 days before the date they lodged their claim.
If a worker initially took ‘sick leave’ for this period, you must re-credit it.
You must pay for reasonable medical and associated expenses while you are deciding whether or not to accept liability. These payments are initially limited to a maximum of $5,000 until the claim is accepted or a dispute is heard and resolved.
You are then liable for the cost of all reasonable expenses the injured worker necessarily incurs for:
- medical services
- hospital services
- household services, for the proper running and maintenance of the worker’s home (such as cleaning, laundry and gardening)
- nursing services
- constant attendant services, including the constant or regular personal attendance on the worker provided by someone who is not a member of the worker’s family (for example, to shower, dress or feed the worker)
- rehabilitation services
- ambulance services.
If you believe a claimed expense is not reasonable or necessary, discuss it with your insurer.
Your worker must give you any account for a medical or other expense within 7 days.
Once you receive the account, you must forward it to your insurer within 7 days.
An account must be paid within 28 days of receiving it.
If you do not think the account should be paid, discuss it with your insurer.
You are liable to pay reasonable expenses for the worker to travel to any medical, hospital or rehabilitation service or to attend any medical examination organised by you.
The amount payable for using a private vehicle is calculated with the occasional user rates set out in the Tasmanian State Service Award (external link).
The question of whether a worker continues to accrue leave while they are not working and are receiving workers compensation benefits is a complex one, and the answer has historically differed depending on the state or territory they work in.
Tasmania’s Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 does not deal with the accrual of leave.
In determining if a worker can accrue leave, employers should check the conditions of the applicable award or agreement and/or with the Fair Work Ombudsman (external link).