Change Is Coming QuicklyOne thing that was certain in our minds leading into the NSW State Election was that whichever party was elected there would be resulting significant workers compensation changes. To put this in context, SA has undergone the largest changes in over 20 years. Comcare, the national scheme, faces widespread change to modernise and keep relevant. NSW has experienced dramatic change and with the return of the Liberal government the medium to large business changes are now almost certain. Similar to SA and when implemented in NSW, the changes will be the most significant seen in over 20 years. With privatisation front of the Baird government’s mind, debate has resurfaced as to if the recently sighted NSW WorkCover Insurance logo is an indication of a planned move to privatise the NSW scheme.

CHANGE IS COMING QUICKLY – Some of our thoughts on what lies ahead for workers compensation in NSW and nationally:

  • Return to Work (RTW) – for the last 12-18 months the focus on RTW for injured workers has increased dramatically. RTW will continue to be a key focus for insurers/agents and increasingly so for mature age employees. Some of the challenges businesses will face will include finding relevant suitable duties in context of injured worker willingness, insurer pressure and influence of doctors
  • Cheaper Premiums – the battle is on between the Australian states/territories to attract and retain businesses operating in their state/territory. Consequently the respective governments are endeavouring to actively reduce premiums to make the cost of doing business cheaper
  • Claims Management – Associated with return to work, the ability for businesses to effectively manage claims will be key in the RTW of injured workers
  • Psychological Claims – increasing frequency and associated challenges for businesses + insurers in managing these effectively particularly in terms of RTW of the “injured” worker
  • Rehabilitation – increased use of specialist rehab services rather than generic treatment programs costing more
  • Factual Investigations – increased use particularly before acceptance of (claim) liability
  • Alignment of Retirement Age with Workers Compensation Cover – to ensure workers are covered for loss of income caused by workplace related injuries post the age of 65
  • Comcare – widespread changes and potential for larger businesses to enter a revitalised national scheme
  • Self Insured – as the premium costs continue to reduce, self insured businesses will re-enter the schemes to avoid the challenges associated with self insurance

The key challenges businesses will continue to face will include:

  • Ageing Workforce – with recovery time typically longer for more mature people, the need to focus on preventive measures will become important for businesses
  • Overweight Employees – we have covered this topic recently (Improve Productivity Reduce Absenteeism) and this will continue to be a key challenge for employees and those seeking to be non-discriminate in their recruitment processes

Below are recent related articles highlighting impacts, and need for, change:

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

Title: Thousands lose workers compensation benefits with new scheme: report

Read Time: 1 Minute

Source: ABC

Title: Comcare faces widespread changes to ‘modernise’ public service workers’ compensation

Read Time: 1 Minute