Parliament urged not to introduce WorkCover QLD injury thresholds


A long-term LNP member, who runs a Brisbane personal injury law firm, has pleaded with the Queensland government to leave the state’s workers’ compensation scheme alone.

Parliament urged not to introduce WorkCover QLD injury thresholds

LNP lawyer urges cabinet to leave workers compensation alone

The LNP cabinet is expected to hear proposed changes to the WorkCover scheme on Monday.

While nothing has been confirmed, the government has flagged changes, including imposing caps on common law payouts and abolishing workers’ insurance protections during travel and breaks.

The principal of KM Splatt & Associates, Kerry Splatt, has written to all members of parliament urging them not to introduce WorkCover injury thresholds.

If introduced, the thresholds would prevent employees pursuing common-law claims if a WorkCover doctor judges their permanent impairment from their injury as being between zero and five per cent.

“We just don’t want WorkCover doctors determining this. The common-law system allows independent assessment,” Mr Splatt told Fairfax Media.

“Employers and government have the wrong assumption thinking premiums would go down, but the cost of bureaucracy to implement the system won’t achieve that.”

In his letter to parliament, Mr Splatt, who is a member of the LNP’s Law and Justice Committee, says insurance premiums have risen in other states which have an injury threshold system.

“It is clear over the last 10 years that thresholds don’t work and are unfair,” Mr Splatt wrote.

Mr Splatt also told Fairfax Media his business would decrease by “about 15 per cent” if the changes were introduced.

A ReachTEL poll conducted on Thursday showed 83 per cent support the right of workers to bring legal claims for injuries in unsafe workplaces, while 73 per cent think workers should be able to claim for minor injuries as well.



Qld: Construction Industry Wants Workers Comp Overhaul

The building and construction industry in Queensland has joined industry calls for an overhaul of workers compensation arrangements in that state, including measures to limit a worker’s rights to receive compensation through the courts.

As speculation mounts that the government is considering wide-ranging reforms to the WorkCover system, groups such as the Master Builders Association, Housing Industry Association and Master Electricians Australia have joined forces with a number of other industry groups to call for a five percent work related impairment (WRI) threshold on access to compensation under common law.

This would mean workers would be able to pursue compensation claims through the courts only if the worker concerned suffers permanent impairment (e.g. loss of body parts or system functions) to the tune of five percent as a result of the injury.

For injuries which did not meet this requirement, workers would still be able to claim compensation via a statutory formula.

Master Builders Association (Queensland) Executive Director Grant Calvin says common law claims account for a disproportionate share of the overall cost of the WorkCover scheme and are an unduly expensive means of awarding compensation for injuries assessed as having a low WRI percentage.

“In the building and construction industry, there has been a 23% increase in premiums in the last four years, with some sectors such as bricklaying and concreting up more than 30%” Galvin says.

“This is a massive concern for Master Builders, particularly as many of our members are small businesses and are finding these premiums unsustainable.”

Galvin’s comments come amid speculation the Queensland government may be considering changes to the system similar to those recently passed in New South Wales, which saw worker’s entitlements cut back after 13 weeks as opposed to the previous 26 weeks and financial support for medical expenses reduced.

Whilst employer groups are calling for changes to reduce the cost of the system, unions and some lawyer groups say mooted changes would remove coverage and cut benefits.

Queensland Council of Unions President John Battams says rights to sue negligent employers for injuries are under threat, as are journey claims covering injuries for workers travelling to and from work.

Australian Lawyers Alliance Queensland President Michelle James, meanwhile, says a recent parliamentary inquiry was right in concluding the scheme worked well and did not require fundamental change was correct, and has called on the government to ‘draw breath’ before proceeding with any changes.

Galvin, however, says the aforementioned threshold changes would reduce premiums by up to 15 percent whilst still allowing common law compensation for significant WRI injuries.

He says Queensland and the ACT are the only states where access to common law compensation is unlimited.

“We understand that sometimes a worker must seek recourse through common law and indeed we do not seek to deny access to compensation for workers who have significant ongoing impairment as the result of sustaining a work related injury” Galvin says.

“Rather we believe this issue must be considered against achieving the most efficient means of delivering fair outcomes for all stakeholders.”



Related article

Workcover QLD plans introduction of impairment thresholds

8 Responses to “Parliament urged not to introduce WorkCover QLD injury thresholds”

  1. the bureaucracy explain the dumb fucks wouldnt know jack shit they play with their dicks all day and wait for big biz to play a tune and they start dancing

  2. Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie’s announcement today to cut common law claims from WorkCover will sentence many injured workers to a life of poverty.

    Source, Stand for QLD – Bleijie sentences injured workers to a life of poverty

    Queensland Council of Unions President John Battams said the Attorney-General had misled Queensland workers and their families about his plans for workers’ compensation, and treated his LNP colleagues like fools.

    “The WorkCover report released last night showed the scheme is in excellent financial health and common law claims have steadily decreased.

    “Mr Bleijie and the business lobbyists at the Chamber of Commerce hatched this plan 12 months ago to cut WorkCover but the Attorney-General has chosen to mislead the Queensland public for months about his real intentions for the scheme.

    “As late as last Friday he said no decision had been made about common law but that was an outright lie,” Mr Battams said.

    “The Cabinet submission rubberstamped yesterday would have been in the making for months,” he said.

    “His actions will deny many injured workers the opportunity to sue negligent employers for damages.

    “Based on previous actuarial information, we know that more than 50 per cent of successful claims against negligent employers are for injuries with an impairment level of less than five per cent.

    “This is because even a small degree of permanent impairment can have a devastating effect on a worker’s future employment prospects.

    “This means around half of injured workers may now be denied this right. Without an appropriate independently adjudicated payout, many of these workers and their families face a life of poverty.

    “Taking away these rights will fundamentally dismantle what is currently Australia’s best and fairest workers’ compensation scheme,” he said.

    A recent poll found 83 per cent of Queenslanders agreed that an injured employee should be able to take legal action for workplace injuries caused by their employer’s negligence.

    “The Premier and the Attorney-General have rolled over for a few selfish Brisbane business lobbyists and cut WorkCover. They have to explain to Queenslanders and their own MPs why they have disregarded the recommendations of their own committee,” Mr Battams said.

    Queensland’s workers’ compensation scheme remains the most financially viable scheme in Australia and it has the best record of return to work.

    Read Here:

    workcovervictim3 October 16, 2013 at 11:18 am
  3. Changing WorkCover laws?

    October 14, 2013, 6:18 pm Sharyn Ghidella Today Tonight

    Queensland Question: should laws be changed to make it more difficult to claim compensation if you are injured at work?

    Watch video>>

    After concerns raised on the inequality in compensation between work and victims of crime payouts, Nick Berrins from Queensland Chamber of Commerce and Industry says it’s time for an urgent change.

    “The Queensland business community believes change is need to the state’s workers compensation system. In particular we need the implementation of a threshold for unrestricted access to common law,” Mr Berrins said.

    Should laws be changed to make it more difficult to claim compensation if you are injured at work? Tell us on Facebook

    “At the moment employees can sue their employer at the drop of a hat, they are throwing the dice and seeing what money they are getting out of the employer.
    More stories from Today Tonight

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    “This is costing the Queensland business community approximately $400 million each year through higher premiums. We are the only state that continues to have access to common law and changes needs to be made.”

    However Rodney Hodgson from Australian Lawyers Alliance disagrees.

    “Queensland has Australia’s best and fairest workers’ compensation scheme, low premiums and fair for workers. Eighty-three per cent of Queenslanders oppose changes to existing rights,” Mr Hodgson said.

    “The government’s own committee said do not shred existing rights. Even minor injuries can have major consequences for people’s lives and their careers. The proposed changes fail the economics test and fail the fairness test.”

    Should laws be changed to make it more difficult to claim compensation if you are injured at work? Tell us on Facebook

    workcovervictim3 October 16, 2013 at 8:44 am
  4. Raising the WorkCover threshold

    The much delayed and debated WorkCover annual report tabled in state parliament yesterday afternoon reveals WorkCover made a $513 million dollar profit – over double what it was the year before.

    Rod Hodgson from Australian Lawyers Alliance spoke to Steve Austin about the impact of raising the WorkCover threshold to 5%.

    Following Rod, the Chamber of Commerce Industry Queensland General Manager (Advocacy) Nick Behrens offered the perspective of small business owners who are in favour of raising the threshold.

    Download audio

    Or visit original source:

    workcovervictim3 October 16, 2013 at 8:37 am
  5. WorkCover QLD annual report reveals $518m profit

    How very interesting to see that while workcover QLD keeps on increasing (massive) profits, they now want to change the workcover laws to restrict injured workers’ entitlements, in particular claims for damages…!

    WorkCover’s annual report has been tabled in Queensland Parliament, revealing a $518 million profit last financial year, up from $199 million in 2010-11.

    The report shows the average employer premium is still the second lowest in Australia, but revenue from premiums grew by over 11 per cent.

    Statutory claim payouts to workers increased last financial year, but common law payments went down.

    The report says the operating result is due to higher-than-expected wages growth, lower-than-expected claims, and a strong investment return.

    The Queensland Government is looking at increasing the penalty for fraudulent workers compensation claims.

    It says it wants to increase the current penalty from 18 months in jail to up to five years.

    Changes to the Workers’ Compensation Scheme being introduced in State Parliament this week include a cap on common law claims

    The Government says the scheme will put the focus back on injury management, rehabilitation and return to work, while providing a competitive premium for employers.

    The Government has completed its review and it is expected the changes will be introduced into Parliament later this week.

    workcovervictim3 October 16, 2013 at 8:34 am
  6. Queensland WorkCover changes will limit claims

    Cabinet have ticked off on changes to the state’s WorkCover scheme, which is believed to include a threshold on common law claims, in line with requests from business.

    The changes are expected to go through parliament this week and are expected to see a five per cent threshold on common law claims, which business lobby groups had wanted, saying it was a protection against employees suing over minor injuries.

    The scrapping of journey claims, which allowed workers to claim for injuries they had suffered on their way to and from work, were also on the agenda, but are believed to be exempt from this latest review.

    The government has had to navigate difficult waters with unions and lawyer lobby groups fighting just as hard to keep the scheme as it stands, as business lobby groups have fought to change it.

    The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland had argued that the scheme was impacting on business.

    The Australian Lawyers Alliance, which includes personal injury specialists, argued no change was needed as it would equate to only a small change in premium rates for businesses, but a massive change for employees. It would also mean a change to personal injury lawyer’s bottom line, but ALA representative and Maurice Blackburn Queensland head Rod Hodgson said it was about addressing a “fundamentally unfair” move which would hamstring injured employees.

    “The consequence of the threshold, rumoured to be five per cent, is about half of all people who can currently pursue a claim of that type, wouldn’t be able to pursue that type of claim,” he said.

    “That is fundamentally unfair and thresholds have also been shown to be unsuccessful interstate, in driving down premiums for employers.

    “A threshold is a fundamental barrier to accessing any money for that injury if it has been caused in an unsafe workplace.”

    Critics of the reported changes, including John Battams of the Queensland Council of Unions, as well as Mr Hodgson, said the scheme’s annual report, tabled by Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie on Monday afternoon, was proof no changes were needed.

    The report shows the government-owned body was not only fully funded, it made a $517 million profit.

    The average premium rate will remain at $1.45 per $100 in wages, which is the second lowest rate of all states, bettered only by Victoria’s scheme which comes in at $1.34.

    Over the 2012-13 financial year, WorkCover insured 153,000 employers, dealt with 88,000 new statutory claims and 3700 common law claims.

    The average cost of a statutory claim was $6300, while the average cost of a common law claim came in at $161,000.

    WorkCover aims to maintain a funding ratio of at least 110 per cent. Any additional funds, are invested in the Queensland Investment Corporation, another government owned body.

    Mr Hodgson said the report showed WorkCover was in “brilliant health” and common law payments had decreased from $513 million to $461 million in the last financial year.

    “It is absolutely stable and there is no basis whatsoever to engage in the type of slash and burn measures advocated by the CCIQ,” Mr Hodgson said.

    Mr Battams agreed.

    “The claims common law payments were out of control and were going to cost the scheme a fortune were proven totally incorrect; common law claims are stable and the average claim is well below what was expected,” he said.

    “Journey claims continue to only be a minor cost to the scheme, so all in all, this adds up to a need for the premier to intervene and put this whole thing to rest and keep the current scheme, because there is absolutely no need to change it.”

    A spokesman for Mr Bleijie confirmed the changes had been discussed at Cabinet, but would not confirm what those changes were.

    Earlier in the day, Opposition leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said she was concerned the laws would slip by without notice, while the focus was on the government’s war against organised crime, which would be presented to parliament on Tuesday.