Published: 07 August 2018
Author: Carla Cipressi
Vital insights about TAC Loss of Earnings Benefits and returning to work after a road accident
When you have been injured on the road it is important to be aware that you can claim loss of earnings, and it’s also vital to know where you stand with your employer to facilitate a safe return to work.
Loss of Earnings Benefits
The Transport Accident Act sets out the law dealing with Transport Accident Commission (TAC) claims and provides for loss of earning benefits to be paid to workers who are at least 15 years old with an accepted TAC claim. Full-time employment is not a requirement to be entitled to claim loss of earnings, and in some cases, even if you were not working at the time of the accident, the TAC may pay loss of earnings benefits. The TAC will pay loss of earnings after the first five days you are off work for a maximum of three years unless the accident injuries are assessed with an impairment of more than 50 per cent. In these circumstances, the TAC may pay loss of earning benefits until the normal retirement age.
In all cases, your doctor will need to provide a certificate of capacity that states your capacity to work is affected because of your accident injuries.
How are claims calculated?
The TAC calculates 80% of the last 12 months of your pre-accident weekly earnings with a cap of $1,350 per week and a minimum payment of $665 per week (figures applicable between 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019). You may be entitled to a higher rate if you have dependants. Similarly, if you have commenced work performing reduced hours, you will receive partial loss of earning benefits. You can find out more about the calculations and eligibility for benefits in the Pre-Accident Weekly Earnings Policy.
If you have used leave entitlements for periods off work due to your accident injury, the TAC will apply the same formula of 80% of your leave pay to reimburse you for the leave taken.
Returning to work
Unlike the workers’ compensation scheme, the law governing road injuries is completely silent when it comes to the obligations of both employees and employers concerning return to work and this can lead to uncertainty for everyone.
Ordinarily, when your doctor believes you are ready to trial getting back to work and this is stated on a certificate of capacity, the TAC will get in contact with your employer to arrange provision of modified duties and if required, modified hours.
The TAC can offer financial support to your employer by way of funding necessary equipment or modifications in the workplace as well as subsidising wages. Most importantly, they will arrange vocational rehabilitation services to perform a worksite assessment and prepare a return to work plan that you, your employer and your doctor will need to sign off on before you start. In some cases, the TAC can also assist you with travel to and from work.
However, there are many reasons why not all employers can or may be able to continue to provide modified duties on a long-term basis to employees injured in a road accident. In these circumstances, the TAC scheme does not contain any measures to protect employment or set out employer obligations to assist in the return to work process.
The TAC can assist with retraining, to help you get a new job if you can’t return to the job you had before the accident. Retraining can be in addition to payment of loss of earnings benefits, keeping in mind that these benefits are only payable for a maximum of three years. So, if your accident injuries are keeping you from returning to work, please seek advice from a TAC lawyer.