Urgent workers comp rules changes needed say industry groups

The Queensland Trucking Association has today joined with representatives from Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland, Australian Industry Group, Master Builders Association, Housing Industry Association, Association of Self Insured Employers and the Australian Sugar Milling Council to discuss industry concerns and place further pressure on the State Government to act.

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Queensland’s peak industry bodies say amendments to the Queensland Workers’ Compensation Scheme must be urgently implemented to address growing concerns over its impact on Queensland employers.

Peter Garske, CEO, Queensland Trucking Association Ltd (QTA) stated “the principle driver behind our Association’s involvement in this public statement is the burgeoning costs on small business reflecting in significant premium increases which arise from the Common Law process of the Queensland Workers Compensation Scheme.”

“The economic impact on small business in the trucking and freight industries, who provide a critically important service across the State particularly to remote and regional Queensland, is a clear deterrent on business expansion and employment growth.”

The current provision allowing unrestricted access to common law remains the key concern to Queensland employers.

Common law damages claims remain well above the historical average and account for a disproportionate amount of the overall cost of the scheme.

Currently, the common law process represents an expensive means of awarding compensation to workers compared to the statutory process particularly for injuries assessed as zero or a low Work Related Impairment (WRI) per cent.

Mr Garske stated: “The heavy vehicle road freight industry understands that sometimes a worker must seek recourse through common law and indeed we do not seek to deny access to compensation for workers wh

o have significant ongoing impairment as the result of sustaining a work related injury.

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

A threshold of at least 5 per cent WRI would provide due relief for employers as well as allowing injured workers with higher WRI assessments to still have appropriate recourse to common law.

For example, the implementation a 5 per cent threshold would reduce an average from $1.45 to $1.23, which is a 15 per cent reduction, yielding a 15 per cent reduction.
This, in-turn, would provide significant stimulus in the economy.

“QTA Ltd along with those industry representatives meeting today, are committed to best practice workers’ compensation arrangements for the protection of all Queensland employers and workers. QTA Ltd calls on the Queensland Government to support our industry by removing this financial burden created by the promotion by a small section of the legal industry in promoting to employees an opportunity to double-dip through both statutory claim and common law claim notwithstanding the fact that in many cases the WRI is negligible,” Mr Garske said.

The solution offered today by Employer Associations will continue to guarantee a sustainable Workers Compensation Scheme providing both statutory and common law access to those injured employees who need it most.

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