When injuries happen: About ACC

The ACC scheme is run by the Accident Compensation Corporation. It provides a no-fault insurance policy for everyone who is in New Zealand. This includes visitors from outside New Zealand. This replaces the right to sue for compensation when a personal injury occurs in New Zealand.

Those wishing to make a claim with ACC to cover their injuries must apply to an ACC branch. Each claim is investigated and assessed by ACC. Not everyone is entitled to everything that is offered by ACC (a visitor to New Zealand is entitled to some benefit but not all that is offered by ACC). Approval of a claim and any entitlements are given accordingly. ACC also reserve the right to decline claims.

The purpose of ACC is to:

  • prevent injuries, both in numbers and severity
  • collect injury-related information for the claimants
  • provide rehabilitation to restore a claimant’s health, independece and participation
  • provide fair compensation for injuries
  • uphold the Code of ACC Claimants’ Rights

ACC does not cover

  • Illnesses
  • Stress, hurt feelings (unless they are a direct result from a physical injury or sexual  abuse)
  • Injuries that come on gradually and are not due to a work task

See also ACC: For business

ACC Entitlements

ACC entitlements are listed in Schedule 1 of the ACC Act 2001:

  • medical treatment
  • weekly compensation (up to 80% of lost pre-injury earnings)
  • lump sum compensation for permanent impairment
  • funeral grants
  • attendant care
  • equipment for the home
  • child care
  • home help
  • modifications to the home
  • transport for independence
  • vocational independence

When assessing entitlements, ACC’s primary goal is to aid the claimant to return to work through rehabilitation.

Work-related personal injuries

ACC covers workplace accidents of all employees through ACC Workplace Cover. Employers pay for ACC Workplace Cover through premiums.

A work-related personal injury is an injury that occurs when the person is either:

  • at a place for the purpose of working
  • having a break from work for a meal or a rest
  • travelling to or from treatment for a previous work-related personal injury
  • in a vehicle provided by an employer to transport staff to and from work

The personal injury can be due to an accident, or a gradual process disease due to the risk nature of work.

For a work-related gradual process personal injury, the employee must show that:

  • the work task or the work environment has a particular property or characteristic
  • the particular property or characteristic that caused the personal injury is not found to any material extent outside the person’s work task or environment, and may or may not be present throughout the whole of the person’s employment
  • the risk of suffering the injury is significantly greater for persons doing the task or working in that particular working environment, than for persons who do not

ACC is allowed to adjust levies up or down, with the number of claims accepted for each individual employer’s current or former employees. Industry risk groups are also taken into account. Discounts are available after completing the ACC Workplace Safety Management Practices.

What to do when an employee gets injured at work  

If you are an employee, you should:

  • Inform the employer of the injury or the incident or make an early report of discomfort or difficulty
  • Receive treatment as soon as possible

If you are an employer and you are advised that an injury or incident has occurred in your workplace:

  • ensure that the injured employee receives treatment as soon as possible
  • the incident is recorded in the accident register
  • address any health and safety issues that may have arisen
  • discuss a ‘return to work’ process with the injured employee, if it is possible

If an employee is able to stay at work, an employer has some duties to allow them to be comfortable at work – consulting a physiotherapist or occupational therapist could help. Some easy suggestions include:

  • Providing a more comfortable work station
  • Flexible work hours
  • More breaks
  • It is also best to speak to the health professional about the best ways to accommodate the employee’s needs

If the employee needs time off work, an employer must:

  • Pay them for the first week; the rate of payment is 80% of their pre-injury wages
  • Provide ACC with an ACC3 Employee Earnings Certificate to enable them to pay the employee the compensation
  • Consider suitable duties that could allow the employee to stay at work

What to do when an employee gets injured outside work

If you are an employee:

  • You may have to fill out an ACC claim sheet on your own
  • If you see a doctor or any other health professional, they can help you fill one out

If you are an employer and your employee needs time off work to recover:

  • Check the employee’s employment agreement to see if you are allowed to pay their first week of absence as sick leave. If this is not possible then check this availability under annual leave. This will need to be discussed with the employee. Consider granting them a limited amount of paid leave in good faith, without using up their annual leave entitlements
  • Provide ACC with an ACC3 Employee Earnings Certificate to enable them to pay the employee the compensation
  • If an employee is able to stay at work, an employer has some duties which could allow them to be comfortable at work. Consulting a physiotherapist or occupational therapist could help
  • Discuss with the injured employee about a ‘return to work’ process if it is possible

See ACC’s website for a Return to Work Plan template.