Balance key to Workers' Compensation in Queensland
Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) has today reinforced the need for balance to be restored to Queensland’s workers' compensation scheme at the Parliamentary hearing into the scheme.
CCIQ urged Committee members to consider the costs of rising premiums for employers and the effect it has on Queensland’s ability to offer a competitive business operating environment.
CCIQ General Manager of Advocacy Nick Behrens said, "The 2010 reforms of the scheme failed to address the issues that most concern employers."
"Businesses are faced with rising premiums and are not seeing any return on their investments in workplace health and safety.
"At the same time, there is no incentive for workers to be accountable for their own safety in the workplace, which is made worse by the fact that injured workers have unfettered access to common law.
"Common law claims continue to cause businesses great concern," said Mr Behrens. "They remain well above the historical average and account for a disproportionate amount of the overall cost of the scheme."
"The business community is concerned that some personal injury law firms are profiteering at the expense of employers.
"A common law threshold is the only way to address this issue. Premiums have increased and accidents and claims have not significantly decreased as was intended as a result of the 2010 reforms.
"Further reform is required if Queensland is to offer a competitive workers’ compensation scheme and attract investment in the future."
CCIQ recognises the importance of maintaining a financially viable workers’ compensation framework that adequately protects employers and workers for genuine work-related injuries.
CCIQ urges the Committee to address the current imbalance between employers and workers in the current scheme and anticipates the Committee’s report in early 2013.
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);
- Recognise 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;
- Exclusion of ‘journey to and from work’ in claims for workers’ compensation.