This is the first in a series of blog posts I’m doing to explain National’s plans to gut ACC and highlight how unfair they are.
One of the proposed changes is to vocational independence assessments. These assessments are used by ACC to decide if an ACC claimant receiving weekly compensation for loss of earnings is fit to return to suitable work. If a claimant is found to be fit to return to suitable work, his or her weekly compensation stops three months later if the claimant has not already gone back to his or her pre-injury job or found another one.
The assessment consists of two parts. Currently, these are:
- A vocational assessment to determine what types of work are suitable for the claimant on the basis of the claimant’s skills, experience and earnings before his or her incapacity.
- A medical assessment to determine whether the claimant is fit to work at least 35 hours in any of those types of work.
ACC Minister Nick Smith is proposing to remove the requirement that the vocational assessment of suitable work takes into account a claimant’s earnings before his or her incapacity, and to reduce to 30 the minimum number of hours a claimant must assessed under the medical assessment as being able to work to be considered vocationally independent.
So, under Smith’s proposal, a claimant who was earning, say, $1500 a week before his or her injury will be booted off weekly compensation if he or she is found to be able to do some job for 30 hours a week that pays only the minimum wage. That’s just $375 a week.
As Sue Bradford pointed out a couple of days ago, an injured aircraft engineer will lose his or her weekly compensation if found to be able to work as a carpark attendant.
I can’t see how that fits under the purpose clause in the legislation that governs ACC, which requires that “…during their rehabilitation, claimants receive fair compensation for loss from injury…”
It’s just not fair!