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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 14 Hansard (24 November) . . Page.. 4576..


MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

In addition to improving the accountability and transparency of the safety net arrangements, this bill will provide a mechanism to assist in ensuring that employers' insurance policies are adequate. Under the provisions of the act, an employer, other than a self-insurer, must maintain a compulsory insurance policy with an approved insurer. Employers are required to provide prescribed information relating to the number of workers and an estimate of wages to be paid to those workers to their insurers when applying for or renewing their compulsory insurance. Employers are also required to submit wage and salary declarations every six months to their insurer, accompanied by a statutory declaration certifying its validity.

The bill will establish a scheme for certificates of currency that will provide information about the coverage of a compulsory insurance policy held by an employer. Employers will be able to ask insurers for an up-to-date certificate every six months. The certificate of currency will include details such as the number of employees and the wages and salary paid to territory workers who participate at a workplace. A certificate of currency would be valid for a period of six months. This period is consistent with the existing requirements in the act for employers to update their wage and salary declarations to insurers every six months.

The bill proposes that inspectors appointed under the act, union industrial officers and officials of employer representative associations and principal contractors who might be liable for workers compensation for employees of subcontractors who do not have sufficient insurance will be entitled to request that employers produce information about the number of employees and wage and salary information, either from their insurance policy or a certificate of currency. Allowing principals access to certificates of currency will provide greater certainty for them when entering subcontracting arrangements. Similar provisions are operating successfully in New South Wales.

This bill also proposes a number of minor policy amendments that will improve the operation of the scheme. The bill proposes allowing insurers and employers to discontinue making payments to an injured worker if no claim for compensation has been made within seven days of the alleged work-related injury. This provision would not apply in situations in which the injured worker is unable to make a claim for compensation due to incapacity.

In a small number of cases injured workers are either unable or refuse to attend a medical assessment within the first 28 days of a claim. The effect of this is that insurers must accept these claims and if subsequent medical evidence indicates that the injury was not of a compensable nature the insurer cannot recover benefits paid to the worker and must give eight weeks notice of the termination of benefits.

The bill proposes that, when an insurer has taken reasonable steps to obtain a medical assessment and the medical assessment has not been completed within the 28 days due to the injured worker's failure to attend, the insurer should be entitled to cease weekly payments until the worker attends the medical assessment. Where the medical assessment cannot be completed for reasons outside the worker's control, such as the

unavailability of appointments with specialists, then the current arrangements would continue to apply.


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