Page 3680 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 23 November 2022
forward to hearing the views of industry and union stakeholders. The code covers a range of psychosocial hazards that can pose a risk to the psychological health of workers, from high job demands to harmful behaviour such as violence and sexual harassment.
Workplace violence is a growing concern and has serious health and safety impacts for workplaces and workers. Employers play a key role in ensuring that workplaces are safe for all workers, which includes the elimination of risks and hazards that might contribute to sexual assault, particularly in terms of workplace culture. Instances of workplace violence, including sexual assault and harassment, may be an indication that an employer has failed in their duty to ensure the health and safety of their workplace. This includes risks arising from psychosocial hazards, such as gendered violence and sexual assault. It is important that these incidents are notified to the regulator and investigated to ensure that employers are doing the right thing and protecting our workers from harm while at work.
I will now move to some of the other changes proposed in the amendment bill. The Workers Compensation Act 1951 amendments will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the workers compensation scheme, including the insurer and self-insurer regulatory framework. The Workers Compensation Act 1951 supports our injured workers, and the amendment bill will permit workers receiving workers compensation payments to take and accrue annual leave and long service leave. This arrangement is allowed under the commonwealth’s Fair Work Act 2009 and will align the ACT with the majority of other jurisdictions nationally.
The existing penalties allowed by the Workers Compensation Act to be set under the Workers Compensation Regulation for licensed insurers, self-insurers and approved rehabilitation providers are not commensurate with the severity of the associated offences. The penalties are capped under the act at $1,000 and not considered to be effective as a deterrent when dealing with non-compliance; nor have they kept pace with penalty indexation or inflation. The penalties for offences are capped to 10 penalty units. The amendment bill increases these caps to up to 20 penalty units for offences, and up to $17,000 for financial penalties on licensees and approved rehabilitation providers. This is consistent with the government’s guide for framing offences. A review of these penalties in the Workers Compensation Regulation will need to be undertaken before the regulations can give effect to these amendments.
The amendment bill also makes minor and technical amendments to the Long Service Leave (Portable Schemes) Act 2009, relating to inconsistencies in sections referencing the updates to examples, to assist in interpreting the entitlements across the act. The government is undertaking consultation on the potential expansion of the portable long service leave scheme in the ACT to cover additional industries, such as hairdressing services and contract catering industries. Subject to this consultation process, I plan on bringing forward legislative amendments in the Assembly in the near future.
Protecting working people is, and always will be, a priority for this government. The government are committed to a range of worker safety measures that we have been pursuing in this parliamentary term. Some of these we have already delivered on. Others we will continue to improve and consider further reforms of to keep our