On Thursday 17 September 2020, the Covid-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) and Other Acts Amendment Bill 2020 (‘the Bill') was passed by the Victorian Parliament to extend a range of temporary changes made by the previous Omnibus Bill, introduced in April 2020, for a further 6 months for most of the provisions.
The Amendment Bill extends the operation of certain temporary modifications to the laws in Victoria enacted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and provides temporary modifications to the laws of Victoria for the purpose of responding to the pandemic.
There are important implications of the extension of the Omnibus legislation for long-term injured Victorians who remain on weekly payments at or after the second entitlement period. Before the pandemic the normal Notice period for the cessation of weekly payments is 13 weeks according to Sections 189 of the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2013 (VIC).
With the passing of the previous Omnibus Bill earlier in April 2020, this then provided for the extension of the Notice period to 39 weeks from the second entitlement decision (the Notice period) for long-term injured workers until 23 October 2020 and worked retrospectively to a Notice given from 1 December 2020.
With the passing of the Bill on 17 September 2020, this now allows for a further extension of the Notice period, for those workers who are due to transition off weekly payments (at or after the second entitlement period-130 weeks of weekly payments of compensation) and whose payments are due to end between October to 31 December 2020 an additional 6 months of weekly payments.
The Honorable Jill Hennessy, Attorney-General, Minister for Workplace Safety, Minister for the Coordination of Justice and Community Safety, in her Second Reading Speech on 17 September 2020 stated that:
‘these measures will continue to have a positive economic impact for this group of long-term injured workers, reducing financial hardship due to Covid-19 and supporting a sustainable transition from the workcover scheme back into the workforce'.
From a practical perspective, when we have advised and continue to advice clients of the implications of the Omnibus Bill and the provisions that relate to the Workers Compensation Scheme, it has provided a sense of relief and some certainty about the next few months which is encouraging.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.