Will workers’ compensation be slashed to save employer costs?
The details are being closely guarded, but the O’Farrell Government has signalled a drastic “reform” of the Workers Compensation system.
Despite the fact that entitlements for injured NSW workers are already lower than in other states, a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers has advised slashing entitlements for injured workers as a way of reducing employer insurance premiums.
Given O’Farrell’s recent anti-worker, anti-union legislation attacking the rights and conditions of public servants, it’s likely that O’Farrell will take this simplistic cost-cutting advice.
There are a number of other ways the workers’ compensation system can save money without having to touch the entitlements of injured workers.
Employers who operate an unsafe workplace or don’t help injured workers get back to work as soon as possible should be targeted by WorkCover and should pay higher premiums. Safe employers should be rewarded by lower premiums.
WorkCover must also police the insurance companies to ensure more efficient management of injury claims to prevent money bleeding out of the WorkCover system and into their pockets.
The RTBU has issued a statement, below, opposing any move by the state government to erode the rights of and assistance to vulnerable Australians.
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RIGHTS AT WORK FOR INJURED WORKERS WORKPLACE RESOLUTION
This union condemns any move by the O’Farrell Government to cut injured workers entitlements. We note that an injured worker that can’t return to work after six months only gets paid $432.50 per week before tax or 90 per cent of their average wage, whichever is less.
We also note that insurance companies are making hundreds of millions
of dollars profit. In our view, the WorkCover scheme must be about preventing injuries in the workplace as the number one priority.
Where an injury occurs, WorkCover must ensure that employers
are complying with their safety obligations and where they are negligent, take action against such employers.
WorkCover must ensure that there is complete co-operation by employers to assist injured workers rehabilitate and return to work. In our view many employers are not complying and therefore many injured workers are remaining on workers compensation for longer periods of time.
Workers in NSW should not have their rights at work cut with respect
to workers compensation because of the O’Farrell Government’s unwillingness to put resources into OHS, better claims
management and compliance.