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Bill improves ACC for casual, seasonanal workers

Hon Maryan Street

Minister for ACC


17 June, 2008 Media Statement



ACC Bill improves weekly compensation for casual and seasonal workers

More than 400,000 workers in casual and seasonal employment stand to gain improved accident compensation cover if they are injured under a Bill expected to have its second reading tonight, says ACC Minister Maryan Street.

Among other things, the Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation and Compensation Amendment Bill (No.2), will close the gap for some workers who are disadvantaged by the way weekly compensation was calculated.

“As of 1 August 2008, casual and seasonal workers’ long-term weekly compensation will be based on the workers’ earning periods, rather than on the 52 weeks before the injury, which may have included non-earning periods.

“Weekly compensation is paid to claimants who are earning at the time of their injury, and is intended to provide earnings-related compensation so that claimants can meet their everyday expenses and focus on recovery,” Maryan Street said.

“Under the current law most workers are not eligible for weekly compensation if they are “between jobs” or are otherwise on unpaid leave and are injured more than 14 days after stopping work.


“The amendment also extends eligibility for weekly compensation to 28 days after stopping work, addressing the uncertainty for most people who are in this situation and ensuring more workers are eligible for cover.”

The changes would make assessments more reasonable and easier for claimants to understand, Maryan Street said.

“Casual and seasonal workers in retail, hospitality, care, transport, tourism, agricultural and meat plants will be among some of the more than 400,000 casual and seasonal workers who will be affected. These workers represent about 20% of the workforce.

“A number of these seasonal and casual workers are more prone to workplace injury and so this change will make a real difference to them.”

As well as providing weekly compensation to people who are unable to work because of their injury, ACC also provides vocational rehabilitation to aid them in returning to work, Maryan Street said.


Case Studies

1. A student is employed during the busy fruit picking season by a Nelson orchardist. While picking, she falls from her ladder and fractures her right leg, meaning she has to be off work for 10 weeks.

She had worked there for 24 weeks, earning $11,000 over that time. She didn’t have any other earnings over that time. During the four weeks immediately before her fall, she earned:

• Week 1 - $500

• Week 2 - $500

• Week 3 - $ 0

• Week 4 - $400.

Under current legislation

The student would have been assessed for compensation as:

• For the first four weeks after the first week of incapacity (short-term period): $1,400 / 3 weeks = $467 weekly earnings = $373 weekly compensation.

• For the period of incapacity after the first four weeks (long-term period): $11,000 / 52 weeks = $212 weekly earnings = $169 weekly compensation.

Under proposed legislation

The student’s weekly compensation would be assessed as follows:

• For the first four weeks after the first week of incapacity (short-term period): $1,400 / 3 weeks = $467 weekly earnings = $373 weekly compensation.

• For the period of incapacity after the first four weeks (long-term period): $11,000 / 24 weeks (the period over which those earnings were earned) = $458 weekly earnings = $367 weekly compensation.

•The change for the student would deliver her about another $990.

*******************************


2. A client suffers a severe laceration to his lower right leg following a motorbike accident on 10 October 2007. His doctor considers that he is unfit for work for the next 30 days. Prior to the injury, the client was working for the Department of Conservation on a one year contract that ended on 21 September 2007.

The client was due to start back at work again on a short-term contract with the Department of Conservation beginning 15 October 2007 (due to finish in March 2008).

Under current legislation

The client is not entitled to weekly compensation because his incapacity commenced more than 14 days after he ceased to be an employee, despite the client providing evidence to support the fact that, had it not been for the injury, he would have been in employment from 15 October 2007.

Under proposed legislation

Under the changes, the client would be entitled to weekly compensation. The amended clause allows for an extension of earner status of 28 days from the last day worked to the date of the incapacity. Because the client suffered the personal injury within 28 days of finishing work, and had intended to start a new job within 3 months of the incapacity, then the client is eligible for weekly compensation.



**********************************

3. A meat processing worker dislocates his shoulder during a rugby game. His doctor considers that he will be unable to work for eight weeks. In the four weeks prior to his injury, the client earned $4,800 ($1,200 per week). In the 52 weeks prior to his injury, the client earned $46,000 during the 45 weeks that the meat processing plant was open.


Under current legislation

The meat processing worker would have been assessed for compensation as:

• For the first four weeks after the first week of incapacity (short-term period): $4,800 / 4 weeks = $1,200 weekly earnings = $960 weekly compensation.

• For the period of incapacity after the first four weeks (long-term period): $46,000 / 52 weeks = $885 weekly earnings = $708 weekly compensation.

Under proposed legislation

The meat processing worker would be assessed as follows:

• For the first four weeks after the first week of incapacity (short-term period): $4,800 / 4 weeks = $1,200 weekly earnings = $960 weekly compensation.

• For the period of incapacity after the first four weeks (long-term period): $46,000 / 45 weeks (the period over which those earnings were earned) = $1022 weekly earnings = $818 weekly compensation.

The change for the meatworker would deliver an extra $330.


ENDS

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