The Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 (‘the Bill’) was last night presented to Parliament and read a first time.

The Bill seeks to remove the requirement that a worker meet a 5% ‘degree of permanent impairment’ (DPI) threshold before being entitled to claim common law damages against his or her employer.

It is proposed that the changes will apply to all injuries sustained since the date of the last State Election (i.e. from 31 January 2015), and that further consultation will occur to consider how to mitigate the impact on workers injured during the period between the introduction of the 5% threshold on 15 October 2013, and 30 January this year.

One of the things proposed by the Bill is that workers in that category may be entitled to additional lump sum compensation, subject to certain conditions (and as prescribed by a Regulation).

It is not otherwise clear how mitigation of the impact to those workers might be facilitated in a common law claims context. The Explanatory Note and Explanatory Speech otherwise providing only that a proposal is being worked on by a stakeholder group, and be designed to balance the unfairness to workers denied the right to claim common law damages, against the need to ensure the ongoing fiscal viability of the workers’ compensation scheme.

Further, the Bill seeks to remove the entitlement of prospective employers to seek potential employees’ claims history summary information, in response to privacy concerns, and concerns as to the use of that information arising out of the operation of the current legislation.

The Bill has been referred to the Finance and Administration Committee for examination.