16/10/2001 - 22:00

Compensation crunch

16/10/2001 - 22:00


Upgrade your subscription to use this feature.

A REPORT that includes recommendations for changes to WA’s workers’ compensation system is drawing mixed responses from business groups.

Compensation crunch
A REPORT that includes recommendations for changes to WA’s workers’ compensation system is drawing mixed responses from business groups.

The WA Government released the Report on the Implementation of the Labor Party Direction Statement in Relation to Workers’ Compensation prepared by Curtin University of Technology research fellow Robert Guthrie for public comment.

That comment period ends on October 19.

Combined Small Business Associations president Oliver Moon said he was pleased the report recognised small business was a disadvantaged sector because it could not negotiate premium discounts.

“We also give strong endorsement to the proposition that insurance brokers or insurance companies undertake the injury management process for small businesses with fewer than 20 employees,” Mr Moon said.

“There is a big cost saving for businesses if the process is followed, but it is hard for small businesses to devote the resources to it. Injury management is a full-time job in itself.”

But he was concerned about proposals to give union represent-atives special consideration in the workers’ compensation system and capping what people other than legal representatives could charge to represent people in the process.

“We don’t believe union representatives should be excluded from the process but they should be treated the same as non-legal representatives,” Mr Moon said.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry believes the report should be dismissed because it does not meet its terms of reference and its recommendations could harm the workers’ compensation system.

CCI manager health and safety Anne Bellamy said that if the report’s recommendations were adopted businesses could face 33 per cent workers’ compensation insurance premium hikes.

Ms Bellamy said the report was meant to show how Labor’s workers’ compensation direction statement principles could be adopted and to give costings.

“The costings do not relate to the principles,” she said.

Ms Bellamy said the report recommended making it easier for injured workers to seek common law remedies and proposed making the benefits to be paid on claims retrospective.

“There are some claims that have been in the system for the past five years,” she said.

Ms Bellamy said implementing the Guthrie report would remove certainty from the system.

Small Business and Enterprise Association executive director Philip Achurch said the State’s small businesses wanted lower premiums.

“By opening up access to common law I cannot see how they are going to keep the premiums down,” he said.

Mr Achurch had another concern with the public comment process. When he asked for a hard copy

of the 500-plus page report he was told he had to download it from

the Workcover website.

When he persisted he was told obtaining a hard copy of the report could be very difficult.

Smith Coffey Insurance Brokers partner Rod Tancred said keeping insurance premiums down would be a problem in the wake of the September 11 terrorism attacks on the US.


Subscription Options