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Stuart Barnett is our mining industry’s leading personal injury lawyer. This month he has some important advice about Accident Pay under the Black Coal Award.

In the last article I discussed the ways that an entitlement to Accident Pay might arise following an injury. That is, either pursuant to an enterprise agreement or individual agreement or under the Black Coal Award. It is important for financial planning that injured workers understand that even when there is an entitlement to accident pay under the Black Coal Award the benefits may be less than your normal remuneration and in some cases for a shorter period.  

The Black Coal Award provides for an initial period of accident pay of 39 weeks and then for injuries that occurred before 1 November 2018 an additional period of 39 weeks. That is, a total of 78 weeks. However, for injuries occurring on or after 1 November 2018 the additional period of accident pay is only 13 weeks. That is, a total of 52 weeks.

For the first period of 39 weeks the entitlement is to the equivalent of paid personal leave under the award and for the second 39 weeks, or 13 weeks, as the case may be, the entitlement is to the equivalent of the classification rate under the award.

What needs to be understood is that generally, although not always, the rates under the Award will be below the rates in an Enterprise Agreement or Individual Agreement.

Thus, even though you may have an entitlement to accident pay under the Black Coal Award the rate you receive could be substantially below the income you would have received had you not been injured. Secondly, for injuries suffered after 1 November 2018 the period in which you receive accident pay will only be for 12 months.

Many people are committed financially to the extent of their expected income. So it is important to be aware of the potential entitlements you can receive if an unexpected injury intervenes to put you off work. 

In the context of a work injury, one way to protect yourself from a financial shortfall is to take out income protection insurance which may top up the accident pay you receive. Amongst other things you need to consider the cost of the insurance weighed against your financial commitments and what waiting period best suits your situation depending upon, for example your accident pay entitlements.   

This is general advice and because your individual circumstances will vary I recommend seeking out specific advice for your needs.

Stuart Barnett

Slater & Gordon Lawyers

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