The 20 May announcement of a drop in WorkCover QLD premiums for employers proves that the Newman Government’s changes to the QLD workers’ compensation scheme, which were rammed through Parliament last year, were unnecessary, says the Australian Lawyers Alliance.
Drop in premiums proof that workcover QLD changes were unnecessary
Queensland employers will pay the lowest average workcover premiums in the country from 1 July 2014, with WorkCover slashing the rate by a whopping 17 %.
The average premium rate in Queensland will fall from 1.45 per cent of payroll to 1.2 per cent for 2014-15 – lower than Victoria’s average rate of 1.298 per cent of payroll, WorkCover Queensland chair Glenn Ferguson announced yesterday.
He said the move provided a competitive advantage to Queensland business owners, and was made possible by WorkCover’s “positive” financial performance and last year’s workers’ compensation reforms… oh really?
These reforms, by the way, included narrowing the definition of “worker” (effectively reducing the number of workers who have access to the scheme), and introducing a common law threshold of 5% whole person impairment – despite a parliamentary committee advising against such reforms because they could adversely affect “vulnerable” workers.
According to Glenn Ferguson ( WorkCover Queensland’s Chairman), workcover QLD remains the “fairest in Australia”.Ferguson states that “Queensland pays the best benefits to workers and is the only state that continues to cover all workers travelling to and from work.” And boasts about a return to work rate of 95.7 % for injured workers…Goodness!
Also see ‘ WorkCover Queensland’s financial strength supports Australia’s lowest workers’ compensation premium rate ‘ as published on the WorkCover QLD website.
Drop in premiums shows Qld govt’s WorkCover changes were unnecessary
By Australian Lawyers Alliance – 20th May 2014
Today’s (20 May) announcement of a drop in WorkCover premiums for employers proves the Newman Government’s changes to the workers’ compensation scheme, rammed through Parliament last year, were unnecessary, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today.
ALA Queensland President, Michelle James, said the Newman Government had tried to claim credit for the decrease in premiums, when, in reality, reductions were always possible without the Government having to slash the rights of employees.
“Today’s announcement is exactly what concerned groups like the ALA had long attempted to explain to the Newman Government, which their own committee accepted but which the Government chose to ignore,” Ms James said.
“It was repeatedly stated that not only was Queensland’s WorkCover scheme the best in Australia, but also that a reduction in premiums was possible without changes having to be rammed through, due to improvements already underway since 2010 within WorkCover.
“The Government have today fancifully sought to claim this drop in premiums as attributable to the changes they introduced; despite the fact that it’s well known any financial impacts of their changes are yet to come through.
“WorkCover’s own figures have always made clear the scheme was in excellent health with low premiums as a result of the 2010 amendments, and that this would continue without having to make any major changes to the scheme.
“WorkCover’s latest Annual Report, released late last year, showed the average common law payout was almost 15% less than WorkCover’s target amount, and that the total cost of common law claims was down more than $50 million compared with the previous year.
“The report also found WorkCover QLD has an annual profit of over $500 million, which again confirms what we said at the time – that there was ample room for the Government to adjust employer premiums without having to jeopardise people’s legal rights unnecessarily.
“Recent stakeholder actuarial briefings from the regulator also clearly show that the reduction in rights for employees has yet to impact the financial outcomes of the scheme.
“As we have always said: that this was an excellent scheme for both employers and employees that did not need to be changed.
“The Government ignored these concerns as well as the findings of its own Parliamentary Committee by announcing a raft of measures that serve only to disadvantage Queenslanders injured in unsafe workplaces.
“It is time for the Government to be upfront with Queenslanders – the only outcome their changes to WorkCover are achieving is to further hurt people doing it tough who have been injured at work. It is now time to reverse the changes made in October 2013, because they are unfair and economically unwarranted,” she said.
as far as we understand, the factors that contribute to a company’s premium calculation include wages paid, claims experience, and industry performance. Continued poor claim performance, through a high frequency of claims and costs, will still negatively impact the premium rate calculation.
LNP WorkCover changes at expense of injured workers
By Stand for Qld – 20 May 2014
Today’s dismantling of WorkCover shows the Newman LNP Government is handing out corporate welfare at the expense of injured workers and their rights at work.
“Taking away rights from injured workers is giving Newman the cover to deliver this $1 billion windfall to employers,” he said.
Employers will also have their claims history wiped clean while any workers’ compensation claims by employees are now openly accessible to bosses.
“This is another free kick for dodgy employers who want to shirk their responsibility to maintain safe workplaces,” Mr Monaghan said.
“This amnesty for negligent bosses must also anger those many diligent employers who have spent time and energy on ensuring workplaces comply with safety rules.”
Injured workers who are forced onto disability income face a bleak future, with the surprise federal budget cuts to disability pensions.
Mr Monaghan said the combination of reductions to WorkCover and slashing disability benefits would destroy the families of some injured workers.
“While dodgy bosses get off scott free, injured workers are left carrying the burden of the LNP’s debt to the big end of town,” he said.
“When Attorney-General Bleijie overturned the decision of a Parliamentary committee to keep WorkCover intact, he showed his priorities lie with employer groups and not with the injured workers of Queensland.”
Changes last October to WorkCover removed the rights of more than half of all injured workers to sue dodgy bosses.
Mr Monaghan predicted the LNP’s treatment of injured workers would be a campaign focus at the next state election.