• robyn moses
    With the massive restructuring occurring with ACC we are increasingly finding it takes a minimum of 3 weeks for ACC to process a sprain/strain work injury claim. Two recent sprain/strain claims where the worker was put off work have been declined. This now leaves payroll in the position of making no 1st week ACC payment until notified by ACC that the claim has been accepted (the worker can use leave entitlements if they have any and this will be given back if the claim is accepted). It leaves workers who live week to week struggling to make ends meet and we have found there is very little support from WINZ for workers. From the business perspective we have long term employees with gradual process injuries who cannot afford treatment options (wrist splints/physio) still needing to be managed to ensure we do not further incapacitate the condition.
    Another loss due to restructuring is that for the past 5 years I have dealt with a sole case manager, this position will be phased out in Feb 2020. Instead I will have to work with multiple ACC workers for each individual workers claim and workers will also have to self manage by inputting their data into the ACC portal. I am already finding the ACC claim data at the end of each month can no longer be relied upon for the business stats, because claims are taking much longer to be entered and recorded in the data base. Just my thoughts
  • Andrew
    Hmm. Not my experience

    We had a "pain in lumbar Spine" injury on 11/11/2019.

    ACC wrote they accepted the claim on 14/11/2019.

    I got the letter in today's mail - it was a public holiday here on Friday.

    My way of getting around the 1st Week compo problem is every person is told "put the accident in the book" and I won't contest an ACC claim. So, even without this letter from ACC, if the employee had put the strain in the book I would have paid first week compo first and argued the toss later.

    If it doenst go in the book its not my problem if a person struggles to make ends meet.

    The other alternative is to pay Sick Leave where there is an entitlement. If a person has blown the entitlement (often due to fictitious "Flu's") then again that's not my problem.

    A further alternative is to pay out Annual Leave entitlement.

    There really are ways for an employer to ensure an employee doesn't struggle - if the will is there. (If you are paying out of leave entitlements, why are workers struggling?)
  • robyn moses
    Interesting in both our cases I took the worker to our GP. The first one a young man employed with us 3 years as a picker in the Dispatch team was diagnosed with suspected carpal tunnel referred for physio and wrist splint. I said we could manage him with alternative duties. A week into alternative duties he took himself back off to the GP and was put off work for a week, the onus therefore fell on ACC to pay him. At this point we learnt the claim was being processed by the gradual process team. (It took 6 weeks to process and the claim was declined). The worker had no leave entitlement, is the sole income earner for his household with a 2nd child due he could not afford physio, a wrist splint and borrowed money to pay rent for the week he was put off. The 2nd worker diagnosed with bursitis and wry neck from cleaning overheads was put off work 2 wks, we paid the 1st week, ACC failed to pay the 2nd week having declined the claim as a work injury. Payroll then used leave entitlement to cover the first week paid out for ACC leaving the worker with no leave entitlement or pay for the 2nd week off work.
    In my 10 years with this business this is the first time I am encountering this with ACC, we have workers who have since left our employment still receiving ACC cover for sprain/strain injuries incurred in 2014!
  • Andrew

    Re worker one. A Carpel Tunnel injury is substantially different injury from a Strain / Sprain. Gradual Process injures will take longer for ACC to process.

    If you had him back at work doing alternative duties he had no lost time so therefore no lost earnings. When he went to the GP and got signed off work for a week, that week is his responsibility to cover - assuming its not a work related injury. From Sick leave (which he didn't have), perhaps from Annual Leave (which you could have advanced him) or on leave without pay. My messages to people to only use their sick leave for genuine serious instances of sickness often falls on deaf ears - until an event such as yours arises. As an aside he would have been getting Working For Families - the tax payer benefit that pays people to raise their children.

    Re worker Number two. Bursitis of the neck is relatively rare. As for a "wry neck" I havent heard of that diagnosis before. You can expect ACC to takes its time with that one. Especially given bursitis is not just a physical injury type condition it can relate to arthritis. Also 2 weeks off seems like a lot - normally a low level condition can be self treated at home with no time off work. So ask why did he let the condition get to such a severe state. ACC questioning it (and subsequently decline) seems reasonable to me.

    We have to remember ACC is essentially an insurance scheme. To get insurance cover an employee has to meet the prescribed conditions. In life there is always a risk a circumstance may no meet an insurance condition - so a person always has to have some back-up plan to mitigate that risk. (See my comments on not wasting sick leave.

    The old adage of holding 3 months pay in reserve for bad time holds true in so many circumstances.
  • robyn moses
    That old adage is a foreign concept too low skilled workers, who live week to week on just above minimum wage and for whom bad times are always just around the corner if not a weekly occurrence and there is no back up plan. It is not uncommon for first aid to supply weetbix/noodles to workers they are seeing who say they have not eaten today; or for HR to provide information on food banks ect. or for us to pay for their meds. prescribed when taking them to the GP for a work injury because at least then we will know they have them to take versus using the money to buy a loaf of bread or to pay kids bus fees. Trying to get them to save annual leave by requesting medicals after they have used all their sick leave just results in medicals from A+E for themselves, their partner or their children and the leave being allowed.
    Re: suspected carpal tunnel he normally averages 10-12 hr work day Mon-Fri with 1/2 day Saturday his income is such that even for a sole earner with a 2nd child on the way his working for family tax benefit is minimal and no where near enough to raise a child for one day of a week never mind 7 days. Two weeks after initial diagnosis the GP put him off work on that same diagnosis not a new diagnosis. 3 months post injury there is still no improvement he has not sought specialist treatment due to costs, we supplied a wrist splint and are currently in talks with the union about keeping him on light duties permanently in a department who only averages an 8 hr work day= less take home pay, he just wants to go back to his normal role/hours despite getting to the end of the shift and only being able to use one hand.
    As for the bursitis/wry neck the injury was only noted when I observed the worker in passing standing lob sided. In discussion it had progressively been getting worse, the worker a Philippine did not report for fear they and their family would lose their job as is said to happen in their country (and for which we have notices about the place in several languages assuring workers that this will not happen) and because they currently have residency applications being processed. The workers was in such a state they were placed in a neck brace to take the weight of the head off the neck strain, could not turn head left or right prescribed intensive anti flam followed by a week physio and the 2 weeks off work.
    On the upside in the past 5 years we have automated 70% of our processes and significantly reduced staff numbers.
  • Andrew
    Purely as some point of reference (and getting a bit off topic).
    A worker on Minimum wage will earn $36,816 gross PA for a 40 hour week. 1 child on WWF = an extra $185, 2 children = an extra $277.

    Bump the week up to 50 hours and gross pay goes to $46,020, 1 child WWF = $169, 2 children = $261.

    Loose a weeks income due to injury, gross goes down, WWF goes up. Not like for like but a person isn't left penniless

    Disc I am very familiar with a low paid, low ski/med skill local /foreign workforce. It is one of the reasons we pay medical insurance for all eligible staff. We also provide EAP services which includes budgeting advice etc. We do not provide weetbix.

    As for your carpal tunnel person - if you are flogging him with a 54 hour repetitive week there may be some moral imperative to pay his first week of absence irrespective of ACC.

    A low skilled foreign worker with Bursitis - I'm not liking his residency application chances. Such a person may not be eligible for NZ health care (outside of ACC) anyway so ought to be carrying own insurance
  • Andrew
    It is probably worth reminding ourselves that the acceptance of an injury by ACC automatically bars a person from suing for or other wise seeking compensatory damages.

    The flip side, of course being, if ACC does not accept a claim then an employee is perfectly free and able to pursue an employer for full compensation - whatever that might be.

    Given the examples above and the fact the employer appears to accept responsibility not only for the harm but also the ensuing loss of earnings, that employer would be well advised to cough up and mitigate any potential future claim.
  • Steve Setterfield
    Having just had shoulder reconstruction following a (sober) tumble at home I have to say that ACC were right on the ball and their assistance was much appreciated. My bitch and moan is with the IRD! The 80% payment by ACC is seen by the IRD as a second stream of income and therefore you have to pay a higher tax rate, hence a recent bill for almost $3k. Firstly why? It's not a second income, it's compensation for the loss of earnings following an injury. Secondly, how come the bill is directed to you after the return to work? Surely the ACC and the IRD communicate, don't they? I would have preferred to pay the tax out of my ACC payments at the time rather than having been hit by a lump sum "you owe" demand.
  • Michael Wilson
    I would have a chat to an accountant. Usually ACC is seen as the primary and secondary tax is paid on top ups from your employer.
  • Andrew
    We often get pinged by IRD for not putting injured workers on secondary tax when they are on a return to work programme while getting compo. Like Steve, I reckon it is madness - tax should be at usual rate otherwise it is a disincentive to keep working (See my Peace and Love thread).

    But what really gets my goat is ACC still insist on experience rating us for time lost when a work related injured worker comes back on light duties.
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