In what is being viewed as the South Australian workers’ compensation scheme’s biggest changes in 25 years, the State Government proposes renaming it Return to Work.(WTF). Proposed WorkCover changes also include scrapping of medical review panels for injured South Australian workers…An interesting time ahead for all concerned indeed!
WorkCover SA rebranded Return To Work as two-year cut-off planned for injured SA workers
Wed 6 Aug 2014, 8:06am | News ABC
Related Story: WorkCover overhaul priority for new parliament
Proposed WorkCover changes that scrap medical review panels for injured South Australian workers have won support from unions.
In what is being viewed as the workers’ compensation scheme’s biggest changes in 25 years, the State Government also proposes renaming it Return to Work.
SA Unions secretary Joe Szakacs said he supported efforts to make the workers’ compensation scheme financially sustainable.
He said getting rid of medical review panels would save money and help reduce stress on injured workers.
“We’ve seen various court decisions that have said the medical review panels are actually redundant so we’re pleased to see that in this reboot that medical review panels … will be scrapped,” he said.
“That’s a good thing for workers and it’s a very big cost saving for the scheme too so it’s good all round.”
Workers with minor injuries cannot ‘linger’ on scheme
Planned changes to the scheme will target workers who suffer minor injuries but remain on compensation for more than two years.
Attorney-General John Rau (pictured) said the current unfunded liability of WorkCover needed to be reduced so that injured workers would become ineligible for cover after two years.
“Those people who have presently been able to linger on the scheme with a relatively minor work injury beyond two years will not be able to do so,” he said.
“In recognition of that, those people will be targeted for active return to work intervention well before that two years.”
Mr Rau said the changes to the compensation scheme, which covered 430,000 SA employees in 50,000 businesses, could be expected to save business about $180 million annually by lowering their insurance premiums.
He also said 94 per cent of workers would get increased benefits or be no worse off.
The Government is keen to see Return to Work operating by next July.
Opposition industrial relations spokesman Rob Lucas said the Government’s previous record on WorkCover left him unexcited about its latest reform plan.
“There were going to be massive premium savings for business, an improved position for workers. None of that, of course, turned around,” he said.
“None of that was achieved so time will tell whether or not the latest claims from the Government will prove to any more successful than claims that have been made in the past.”
Time will tell whether or not the latest claims from the Government will prove to any more successful than claims that have been made in the past. (Rob Lucas).
Premier Jay Weatherill unveils WorkCover shake-up set to ‘save SA businesses more than $180m a year’
Political Reporter Sheradyn Holderhead
August 05, 2014 4:00PM
South Australian businesses are set to save more than $180 million a year through a major shake-up to WorkCover that will aim to get injured workers back on the job sooner, the government has announced.
Premier Jay Weatherill said early intervention was the focus of the new scheme.
He said it would be cheaper to run because rather than millions being spent on workers who were left feeling incapacitated, people would receive a lump sum payment that they could use on their own rehabilitation as they saw fit.
If the scheme is passed through State Parliament, compensation payments to workers not seriously injured will stop after two years, rather continuing, sometimes until the worker reaches retirement age.
In return, Mr Weatherill said these workers would be assured better support to return to work, including a face-to-face meeting within 48 hours of WorkCover receiving a notification of an injury likely to keep someone off work for more than two weeks.
“Case managers will follow the worker through the process of returning to work with step-by-step help along the way,” Mr Weatherill said.
“We know this approach works, WorkCover has begun that process to some extent already and have seen results.”
Industrial Relations Minister John Rau said he would also introduce legislation to establish a South Australian Employment Tribunal.
“This tribunal will provide quicker access and faster dispute resolutions,” he said.
Mr Rau signalled there would be changes to SafeWork SA that would be detailed in coming months.
“I want to ensure we are doing all we can to prevent injuries occurring in the first place,” he said.
Originally published as WorkCover shake-up ‘to save businesses $180m’