Termination of Weekly Compensation – The 60 Day Dilemma!
by Sandra Taglieri
Frequently, lawyers practising in the workers compensation area receive instructions from an incapacitated worker who has been served with a notice terminating weekly payments on the grounds that a medical practitioner has certified that they are no longer incapacitated or their incapacity is no longer due to the accepted workplace injury.
Not uncommonly, either:
(a) more than 60 days has elapsed from service of the notice on the worker; or
(b) the lawyer overlooks filing an application with the Tribunal to dispute the termination within the required 60 days.
Historically, many lawyers regarded the failure to lodge an application to dispute the termination of weekly payments within the prescribed 60 days as fatal to the worker’s ability to seek an order reinstating payments. Counsel for the Employer in a recent decision of the Workers Rehabilitation & Compensation Tribunal put it in terms that the introduction of the 60 day time limit in section 86(4) of the Act was to “ensure there was finality to issues arising as a result of the termination”.
Counsel for the Worker disputed the submission on the Employer’s behalf and instead contended that section 86(4) of the Act was not an exhaustive code as to the circumstances in which action to terminate weekly payments could be challenged.
The Tribunal agreed with the submissions of Counsel for the Worker and held that a Worker could challenge the termination of weekly payments other than pursuant to section 86(4), and that the Worker was entitled to put in issue the validity of the terminating medical certificate pursuant to section 86(3) of the Act.
This decision provides the answer to a longstanding point of contention and no doubt provides a sense of relief to workers and their legal advisers.