Injured workers often find themselves in a difficult financial situation. Not only are they struggling with the physical and psychological aspects of their injury but their ability to earn an income has been affected. Often they have a family to support and a reduction in income adds to the stress and anxiety already being felt.
The Workers Compensation Act 1987 (NSW) provides that an injured worker is entitled to a percentage of their ‘pre-injury average weekly earnings’ (PIAWE). PIAWE is defined as “the weekly average of the gross pre-injury earnings received by the worker for work in any employment during the period 52 weeks prior to the date of injury”. This includes overtime, shift allowances, bonuses and penalties. It is important to note that this includes concurrent employment. If a person is working 2 or more jobs at the time of their injury, these additional earnings should be factored in to their PIAWE.
For any worker injured up to 26 October 2018, the PIAWE is recalculated after 52 weeks to exclude overtime, shift allowances, bonuses and penalties.
For any worker injured on or after 26 October 2018, these entitlements are no longer excluded from the PIAWE calculation.
The Workers Compensation Act provides for payment of weekly benefits during the following periods:
- First 13 weeks:
- 95% of your PIAWE (minus what you are able to earn in suitable employment, if anything)
- Week 14 – 130:
- 80% of your PIAWE if you are totally incapacitated for work; OR
- Up to 80% of your PIAWE if you are partially incapacitated for work and working 15 hours or less per week; OR
- Up to 95% of your PIAWE if you are partially incapacitated for work and working at least 15 hours per week
- Week 130:
- Weekly payments will cease unless the Insurer assesses you as being unfit for work and that this is likely to continue indefinitely.
- Week 130 – 260:
- If the Insurer assesses you as partially fit for work and that this is likely to continue indefinitely, and you are working 15 hours per week or more, you may be entitled to ‘top up pay’. This will be up to 80% of your PIAWE minus the greater of your current weekly earnings or the amount you are able to earn in suitable employment.
NB: If you are assessed at 21% whole person impairment or greater, you are not required to work a minimum of 15 hours per week in order to receive weekly benefits beyond 130 weeks.
Week 260: After you have received benefits for an aggregate period of 260 weeks your weekly payments will cease unless you have an injury which results in permanent impairment greater than 20%. In this case you will be entitled to 80% of your PIAWE, minus what you are able to earn in suitable employment, if anything.
The issue of PIAWE can be complex and you should contact us if you have any queries about your payments. In addition, you may have other valuable entitlements such as medical expenses and lump sum compensation of which you are unaware. We can provide you with advice about all of your rights and entitlements.