SA Premier unveils new WorkCover scheme

The SA government has announced a new WorkCover scheme which would cap some benefits and save businesses $180 million.

The South Australian government has proposed a new WorkCover scheme where less seriously injured workers will be taken off income payments after two years.

The government also plans to re-introduce access to common law, meaning workers will be able to sue negligent employers and seek damages for their injuries.

Announcing the new policy on Friday, Premier Jay Weatherill and Attorney-General John Rau said the scheme would save businesses about $180 million a year and wipe out most of the scheme's $1.4 billion unfunded liability.

Seriously injured workers, such as those with quadriplegia, blindness or significant burns, would receive full income maintenance benefits to retirement and life-time care and support, the premier said.

But those less seriously injured would have their income payments capped at two years and the system would focus on their recovery, re-training and return to work.

If the government was re-elected on March 15, Mr Rau said the scheme could be running by the middle of 2015.

The Attorney-General said the present scheme was entrenching behaviour and compounding attitudinal problems "because people are being rewarded for being sick, not being rewarded for getting better".

People who were not profoundly disabled would be off the scheme at the end of two years, although it might be earlier if they improve, are retrained or go back to work, he added.

SA businesses currently paid a 2.75 per cent levy which was the highest of all the states, but the changes would result in an average premium rate of between 1.5 and 2 per cent.

Opposition treasury spokesman Iain Evan said if the Liberals win the election the government would be happy to consider the merits of the proposals.

But he said the ALP had 12 years to bring in the reforms which would have saved businesses $2.2 billion in premiums.

2 min read
Published 24 January 2014 at 4:40pm
Source: AAP