Page 410 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 16 February 2016

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The bill also requires that employers provide their appointed return-to-work coordinators with the resources necessary to undertake their role. This will ensure that return-to-work coordinators have access to the time, people and information with their organisations to effectively perform the role.

The requirement to appoint a return-to-work coordinator will apply to all self-insurers and to employers who pay an annual workers compensation premium of more than $200,000. In determining the appropriate threshold of appointing a return-to-work coordinator, the government took into account the nature of the work performed by the return-to-work coordinators, also the cost involved in the employment and training and the types of employers who are more likely to experience a significant number of work injuries.

Statistics demonstrate that employers with a large workforce or which undertake higher risk work are more likely to experience workplace injuries. It was clear that the most simple and reliable method for identifying these employers and legislating the appropriate threshold was to use the estimated yearly workers compensation premium. The premium available was chosen as a transparent, single indicator that was responsive to individual employer’s circumstances, particularly the number of employees and risk of work performed. This approach ensures that these employers are most likely to benefit from appointing a return-to-work coordinator. To support employers and their return-to-work coordinators, guidance material will be provided to all appointed return-to-work coordinators to assist them in navigating the ACT workers compensation system.

Further, a transitional period of three months will allow employers to put appropriate arrangements in place following the introduction of the new requirements. Once an employer appoints their return-to-work coordinator, they will provide official notification of the coordinator’s contact and other details. WorkSafe will maintain a register of return-to-work coordinators and will be periodically cross-checking against the information data provided by insurers and self-insurers to monitor implementation and compliance. Similar arrangements are already in place across the majority of Australian jurisdictions. This reform also fulfils the government’s election commitment to establish a statutory obligation to engage return-to-work coordinators.

The second element to the reforms outlined in the bill relates to the powers of our regulator to enforce these new requirements and to ensure compliance with the territory business community. This bill will align with the WorkSafe inspector right-of-entry powers available for workers in compensation matters with the powers that already exist under work health and safety laws. At present WorkSafe inspectors are able to enter workplaces in order to check that work practices comply with work health and safety requirements. While inspectors are also responsible for ensuring workers compensation arrangements comply with the law, they currently do not have the same entry rights to the workplace.

These restrictions on inspector right-of-entry powers significantly impair WorkSafe’s capability to perform its regulatory functions effectively. Historically WorkSafe operated separate workers compensation inspectors and health and safety inspectors. Compliance and enforcement activities were also conducted independently. Through

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