Workers compo premiums to rise, common law rights remain


Queensland’s workers compensation premiums are set to rise under a WorkCover reform announced today

April 27, 2010

Queensland’s workers compensation premiums are set to rise under a WorkCover reform announced today, while restrictions on access to common law claims have been rejected by the Government.

In November 2009, the WorkCover Queensland board reported to government growing financial pressures – including an operating deficit of $1.3 billion – due to the GFC and growth in common law claims.

The board recommended a number of changes including restricting injured workers access to compensation through the courts.

Premier Anna Bligh and the Industrial Relations Minister Cameron Dick have announced the Government will reform the State’s workers compensation scheme to ensure stability and certainty into the future.

The package of changes to WorkCover Queensland will see the average premium rate increase from $1.15 per $100 of wages paid to $1.30 in 2010-11.

Despite the rise, Queensland’s rate remains the lowest of any state or territory.

PROTECTION OF COMMON LAW RIGHTS

In a win for the unions, the Government has also announced restrictions on access to common law compensation claims by injured Queensland workers "will not be imposed as part of the changes".

Dick says the suite of changes represented a responsible, well-considered response to WorkCover’s financial situation, which had been negatively affected by the global financial crisis.

"We need to ensure the scheme continues to be the most stable and solvent in Australia," he says.

"Feedback from stakeholders has persuaded the government to reject the call for restrictions to be imposed on common law claims made through WorkCover."

ONGOING REVIEW

According to Dick, the Government will continue monitoring the implementation of the reform package over the next two years.

"At the end of 2012, we will assess their overall effectiveness and determine whether further, more significant reforms are needed," he says.

The Government will also investigate the possibility of introducing workers' compensation levy system for the construction industry.

Legislation required to implement the reform package is expected to be introduced into Parliament by mid-2010.

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