Too old for compensation

A NARRABEEN grandfather injured while at work believes he has been “ripped off” because he cannot claim full injury benefits due to his age. 

The Manly Daily – Too old for compensation

On March 3, logistics worker John Clarke was injured when a set of stairs collapsed underneath him. Mr Clarke required surgery on his right knee and needed 10 days off work. Normally, an injured worker can claim medical expenses and compensation for lost wages through the WorkCover Authority of NSW.

But as Mr Clarke turned 65 on April 21 he is classed as being of retiring age. This meant he could not claim wages for surgery he needed in June following unsuccessful physiotherapy. He has also been told he will need a replacement knee in a few years, but compensation for medical expenses as a result of his accident will expire once he turns 66.

Instead, Mr Clarke had to use his sick leave to cover his time off. A younger worker in the same situation would have got the full entitlement, Mr Clarke said.

“I think it’s a rip-off. I’m still in full employment, paying the same amount of taxes,” he said.

He questioned talk from politicians about keeping people working later in life. “They won’t cover us for wages (if we’re injured). There’s no point in me staying in the workforce, risking injury and not being covered,” he said. “Hopefully they’ll change the law so the older worker is covered for injuries. “If they’re still paying taxes, why shouldn’t they be covered?”

Ian Day, chief executive of the Council on the Ageing peak body, said Mr Clarke’s situation was an example of impediments for older workers that needed removing.“These are the sorts of structural issues that are embedded in so much legislation that works contrary to the concept of people working longer,” he said.

A WorkCover NSW spokeswoman confirmed Mr Clarke was not eligible for wage compensation once he turned 65.“The WorkCover system is designed to be fair and affordable, to assist injured workers return to work . . . and ensure a financially sustainable scheme,” she said.