Payments when working

If you have capacity to work following a workplace injury, and return to work in suitable employment, you will earn income for the hours you work.

If you can work, but are not able to return to your pre injury employment you may be able to work in other suitable employment. The Workers Compensation Act 1987 (1987 Act) has the full definition for suitable employment.

In some circumstances your employer may identify suitable employment to facilitate your recovery from the workplace injury. Suitable employment can be a rehabilitation strategy used to achieve a return to work outcome therefore these duties must be in line with your capacity for work, be meaningful and increase your capacity for work.

The information below is general in nature and the payments you receive may vary based on your circumstances.

Weekly payments when working in suitable employment

The maximum weekly compensation amount is capped and is indexed in April and October. The maximum amount from 1 April 2016 to 30 September 2016 is $2042.80 per week.

Payments for the first 13 weeks

For the first 13 weeks, your weekly payments are based on the lesser of:

  • 95 per cent of your pre-injury average weekly earnings minus your current weekly earnings or the amount that you have been assessed as able to earn in suitable employment and the value of any deductible amount, or
  • the maximum weekly compensation amount minus any current weekly earnings and the value of any deductible amount.

Payments for 14 to 130 weeks

From 14 to 130 weeks where you continue to have current work capacity and are working 15 hours or more per week, your weekly payments are based on the lesser of:

  • 95 per cent of your pre-injury average weekly earnings minus your current weekly earnings or the amount that you have been assessed as able to earn in suitable employment and the value of any deductible amount, or
  • the maximum weekly compensation amount minus any current weekly earnings and the value of any deductible amount

If you are working less than 15 hours per week, your weekly payments are based on the lesser of:

  • 80 per cent of your pre-injury average weekly earnings minus your current weekly earnings or the amount that you have been assessed as able to earn in suitable employment and the value of any deductible amount, or
  • the maximum weekly compensation amount minus any current weekly earnings and the value of any deductible amount

Note: Pre-injury average weekly earnings are calculated by the insurer based on information provided by you or your employer and reflect how much you were earning prior to your injury. During the first 52 weeks of weekly payments, the calculation of pre-injury average weekly earnings includes ordinary earnings plus overtime and shift allowance payments. After 52 weeks of receiving weekly payments the calculation of pre-injury average weekly earnings will not include overtime and shift allowance payment.

Note: The maximum amount, or cap, which can be used to calculate pre-injury average weekly earnings from 1 April 2016 to 30 September 2016 is $2042.80 per week. If your pre-injury average weekly earnings is more than $2042.80, the insurer will use $2042.80 to calculate your entitlements. This amount is indexed in April and October.

Payments for 131 to 260 weeks

There is no entitlement to weekly payments after receiving weekly payments for 130 weeks unless:

  • the worker has completed an application for continued weekly payments after 130 weeks form and sent it to the insurer
  • the worker is working 15 hours or more per week and earning at least $183 per week (indexed annually) and has been assessed by the insurer as being, and as likely to continue indefinitely to be, incapable of undertaking further additional employment or work that would increase their earnings

Between 131 to 260 weeks, weekly payments are based on the lesser of:

  • 80 per cent of your pre-injury average weekly earnings minus your current weekly earnings or the amount that you have been assessed as able to earn in suitable employment and the value of any deductible amount, or
  • the maximum weekly compensation amount minus any current weekly earnings and the value of any deductible amount

If you have capacity to work but are not working 15 hours or more and earning at least $183 per week (indexed annually) you will cease to receive weekly payments.

After 260 weeks (five years) of weekly payments

Generally, weekly payments will cease after five years unless your level of impairment is greater than 20 per cent and:

  • you have no work capacity which is likely to continue indefinitely, or
  • are working 15 hours or more and earning at least $183 per week (indexed annually), and have been assessed as indefinitely incapable of undertaking further employment to increase their earnings

After 260 weeks, weekly payments are calculated based on the lesser of:

  • 80 per cent of your pre-injury average weekly earnings minus your current weekly earnings or the amount that you have been assessed as able to earn in suitable employment and the value of any deductible amount, or
  • the maximum weekly compensation amount minus any current weekly earnings and the value of any deductible amount.

For all workers, weekly payments generally cease when they reach the Commonwealth retirement age. Exemptions may apply for workers who made a claim for compensation before 1 October 2012. Our fact sheet on the workers compensation changes for workers has further information about this.

Complaints to the Workers Compensation Independent Review Office

If you are dissatisfied at any stage with the management of your injury, you can contact the Workers Compensation Independent Review Office (WIRO) at www.wiro.nsw.gov.au or call them on 13 94 76.

The Workers Compensation Independent Review Office fact sheet contains general information about workers compensation entitlements and procedures. This fact sheet is not a detailed explanation of the law as it applies to claims made by individual workers.

Payments for exempt claimants

Different arrangements apply to exempt workers (including police officers, paramedics, fire fighters, volunteer bush fire fighters, emergency services volunteers).

Weekly payments when you return to work on suitable duties

If you are partially incapacitated following a workplace injury and return to work on suitable duties you will earn income for the hours you work.

If this income is less than what you earned before your injury, eg if you are working part time or the suitable duties are at a lower pay rate, then you may also receive a weekly workers compensation payment, often referred to as 'make up' pay.

Make up pay is usually calculated based on the difference between your pre injury earnings (including overtime, shift work, payments for special expenses and penalty rates) and the amount you are earning while on suitable duties.

Under the legislation, the amount of make up pay cannot exceed the amount you would receive if you were totally incapacitated. For the first 26 weeks after you first received incapacity payments, this would be your current weekly wage rate and for any later period, the statutory rate.

Current weekly wage rate for exempt claimants

The current weekly wage rate is calculated:

  • for workers paid under an award, industrial or enterprise agreement as 100 per cent of the rate of remuneration for one week of work (excluding overtime, shift work, payments for special expenses and penalty rates) or
  • for workers not employed under an award, industrial or enterprise agreement as 80 per cent of their average weekly earnings (including regular overtime and allowances).

Note: The maximum amount, or cap, which can be used to calculate the current weekly wage rate from 1 April 2016 to 30 September 2016 is $2042.80 per week. If your current weekly wage rate is more than $2042.80, the insurer will use $2042.80 to calculate your entitlements. This amount is indexed in April and October.

Statutory rate for exempt claimants

The statutory rate is the amount specified in the 1987 Act and is indexed twice each year in April and October. The statutory rate for a single worker from 1 April 2016 to 30 September 2016 is $480.50.

The statutory rate applicable to earlier periods is detailed in the workers compensation benefits guide.