The Centre for Workforce Futures at Macquarie University recently announced the results of a study that showed that while NSW workers’ compensation premiums have dropped by 17%, around 20,000 workers with long-term injuries were no longer covered for medical treatment. The report concludes that reform is needed to more effectively support injured workers and promote their recovery and return to work.
The report shows that there has been a reduction of around 24% in workers’ compensation claims since the state government overhauled the scheme in 2012.
Professor Ray Markey from the Centre for Workforce Futures at Macquarie University said that one of the alarming findings was that terminations were being reported as returned to work under the new policies, meaning that people were falling through the cracks. Prof Markey said that policies forcing people off workers’ compensation payments and medical treatments were a form of cost shifting.
Prof Markey also went on to say that many people are now being pushed onto disability benefits or dole payments because the system isn’t working.
The report finds that a thorough rethinking of government policy is required to achieve the fundamental objectives of guaranteeing support for injured workers and promoting their recovery.
Deficit forces cutbacks
The NSW government made changes to WorkCover and reduced entitlements in response to the $4.1billion deficit. The report found that restoring these benefits is affordable, with the scheme reporting a surplus of $1.36 billion in December 2013.
Mark Lennon who is the secretary for Unions NSW, which commissioned the university study, said WorkCover’s now strong financial position had come at the cost of injured workers’ health and wellbeing.
While injury prevention is always better than management, it’s vital that injured workers receive the medical care they require. Recovery Partners will continue to monitor this situation and keep you informed.
Disclaimer – these articles are provided to supply general safety information to people responsible for OHS in their organisation. They are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs. Additional information can be found at www.workcover.nsw.au
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