Directions and industry requirements are regularly updated
This guidance is correct as at time of publication, however, Victorian Chief Health Officer (CHO) Directions and industry requirements are regularly updated. Readers of this guidance need to check the latest CHO Directions for applicability.
The impact of COVID-19 on injured workers
The outbreak of COVID-19 continues to significantly impact every Victorian, including those who are particularly vulnerable such as workers with reduced hours and earnings.
Injured workers will now have their compensation claim payments reflect their pre-COVID-19 earnings with the period between 1 March 2020 and 31 December 2020 now excluded from calculations that determine workers' compensation entitlements (pre-injury average weekly earnings or PIAWE) if there has been a reduction in earnings due to COVID-19 during that time.
About the changes to PIAWE
To determine the weekly compensation payable to an injured worker, their PIAWE is used to calculate the compensation entitlement. When assessing the PIAWE calculations, Agents and Self-insurers are required to take into account the ‘relevant period’ which is generally the 52 weeks immediately prior to the date of injury (DOI).
A reduction of workers' hours or earnings due to COVID-19 restrictions in Victoria, has a direct impact on their PIAWE calculations, should they be injured, resulting in reduced weekly compensation being payable to a number of injured workers who have been injured since 1 March 2020.
Changes have been made to the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2013 (WIRC Act) and Accident Compensation Act 1985 (AC Act) to exclude any weeks during the period 1 March 2020 to 31 December 2020 from the relevant period that is considered for a PIAWE calculation, if a worker's earnings were reduced due to COVID-19. This period corresponds with the period of COVID-19 restrictions and ongoing depressed economic conditions in Victoria.
These changes will apply retrospectively to workers where their PIAWE has previously been calculated where the relevant period included a period after 1 March 2020 and where the worker's earnings in this period were impacted by COVID-19.
We encourage employers to contact their Agent or Self-insurer if they consider a worker has been impacted by COVID-19 and they would be eligible for a recalculation of their PIAWE amount.