Queensland Workers' Compensation Scheme requires balance

Tuesday 4 September, 2012 | Tags: Workplace and Employment Policy

In its submission to the Queensland Legislative Assembly’s Finance and Administration Committee Inquiry into the Queensland’s workers’ compensation scheme, CCIQ has strongly encouraged the State Government to restore balance to the scheme.

Whilst the scheme is generally operating well, there remains room for improvement to ensure that Queensland businesses can continue to operate in a competitive environment and not be burdened with ever increasing premiums.

This can certainly occur whilst still offering workplace protection to staff through tweaking of the scheme.

CCIQ President David Goodwin said, "We would strongly urge the state government to ensure that the Queensland workers’ compensation scheme is balanced, fair and works to meet the needs of employees and businesses."

"As a result of the 2010 reforms, businesses are faced with rising premiums, a lack of employee accountability, unfettered access to common law and minimal contestability of common law claims.

"These elements of the scheme significantly increase the burden on employers.

"The reforms have had no significant impact on reducing workplace accidents or common law claims which continue to be a major concern for Queensland businesses.

"To the contrary, the reforms have resulted in an increase to employer premiums from $1.15 per $100 of wages paid by the employer to the current average premium rate at $1.45, a 26% increase.

"In short, premiums have increased and accidents and claims have not significantly decreased as was intended. Current common law claim numbers remain well above the historical average. Clearly further reform is required."

CCIQ recognises the importance of maintaining a financially viable workers’ compensation framework and has undertaken a comprehensive survey of Queensland businesses to canvass employer experiences with the workers compensation scheme.

Additionally, CCIQ hosted an industry association roundtable to assist in identifying areas in need of further reform.

CCIQ’s recommendations include:

  • The State Government commit to the introduction of a Whole Person Impairment (WPI) threshold to accessing common law damages and a working party be established to determine the appropriate threshold level (0-15 per cent).
    • When a working party is established, CCIQ would actively support the working party through participation and/or facilitation. The working party should have clear objectives, one of which should be to determine the level of the Whole Person Impairment (WPI) threshold to accessing common law damages. CCIQ strongly supports a whole person impairment threshold of 15 per cent for common law claims. This figure is consistent with CCIQ’s recommendations in the 2010 workers’ compensation submission and most recently in CCIQ’s Big 3 for Business publication.
  • Recognition of efforts and investment by employers in workplace health and safety and injury prevention through lower WorkCover premiums;
  • Increased emphasis on worker accountability;
  • Strengthening the requirements to prove an injury occurred in the workplace;
  • Increased emphasis on return to work initiatives by all key stakeholders;
  • The definition of ‘worker’ under the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 be harmonised with Australian taxation legislation;
  • Narrowing the definition of workplace ‘injury’ so that employment is ‘the significant contributing factor’ to the injury (including for psychological claims);
  • Specialist medical advice and documentation to be sought in relation to psychological claims; and
  • Exclusion of ‘journey to and from work’ in claims for workers’ compensation.

CCIQ looks forward to working with the State Government to restore balance to Queensland’s workers’ compensation scheme.

A copy of CCIQ’s submission can be found here.

 

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