There has been increased focus on working conditions for employees in Australian businesses, partly due to revelations of unlawful practices in some industry sectors, as well as safety concerns triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. We highlight 4 important compliance requirements with regional applications for the states and territories concerned, and for businesses operating in multiple locations.
- Tasmanian businesses subject to random COVID-19 workplace safety plan audits
- WorkSafe Victoria has temporarily suspended transfer of cover to another provider
- NSW businesses under increased SIRA scrutiny over meeting workplace cover obligations
- Qld businesses now require rehabilitation and return to work coordinators
Some of these requirements are quite specific and detailed, and introduce new obligations for employers. It’s important to understand what is expected and plan for a structural framework for compliance, and seek professional input if there is uncertainty if you have fulfilled all the updated terms.
1. Tasmanian businesses subject to COVID-19 workplace safety plan audits
Under Public Health Direction Tasmanian businesses that remained open during the pandemic or are reopening now must be able to provide a completed COVID workplace safety plan on request by WorkSafe Tasmania. This obligation is in force until at least 30 August 2020.
WorkSafe Tasmania inspectors are currently auditing businesses, checking compliance. Breaches may result in being served an official improvement notice or penalty fines.
How we can help
The Gallagher Workplace Risk practice can help your business develop or register a safety plan that meets regulatory requirements.
2. WorkSafe Victoria has temporarily suspended transfer of cover to another provider
From 1 July to the end of the year (31 December 2020) employers with Victorian WorkCover insurance policies are suspended from transferring their cover to another provider.
This freeze, which is aimed at ensuring continuity of care for injured workers in post COVID-19 conditions, applies to all new and pending requests for transfers.
Exemptions may be granted in some circumstances. If you apply for an exemption you will need to supply evidence in addition to the standard transfer forms to support your application. The following special circumstances may be recognised by WorkSafe.
- You were already a significant way through the process of consolidating and transferring your WorkCover Insurance Policy to another agent before 1 July 2020.
- An existing tender for the management of your WorkCover insurance policy was in process but the outcome was unknown before 1 July 2020.
- If you are in serious financial hardship due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and have been forced to undertake a company restructure consolidating operations to only one employer with the same agent across several Australian jurisdictions.
- There has been an irretrievable breakdown in the working relationship between you and your current managing agent.
How we can help
The Gallagher Workplace Risk practice offers support and guidance to Victorian employers seeking advice on how to prepare and submit an exemption application.
3. NSW businesses subject to increased SIRA scrutiny
Compliance checks conducted by the New South Wales State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) in the first 4 months of the year identified a number of issues, including
- inadequate or no workers’ compensation insurance cover
- failure to meet workers’ compensation requirements or premium payments
- failure to provide return to work programs or suitable duties for returning injured workers
- failure to appoint a rehabilitation or return to work coordinator.
Substantial penalties were issued to non-compliant businesses and an additional 2767 workers’ compensation policies were purchased as a result of these checks.
How we can help
The Gallagher Workplace Risk practice can help NSW based clients meet their obligations including
- confirming your workers’ compensation cover is valid and that you’re paying the correct premium
- auditing your existing rehabilitation protocols against governmental standards
- providing support with rehab and return to work strategies
- identifying suitable duties for returning workers and enabling better communications with doctors and allied health professional.
4. Rehabilitation and return to work coordinator requirement for Qld businesses
From 1 July Queensland businesses in high risk industry sectors or whose payroll exceeds specific QOTE totals must appoint a rehabilitation and return to work coordinator (RRTWC) to manage your business and workplace rehabilitation policies and procedures.
The RRTWC must be employed under a contract, be based in Queensland and have completed a training course approved by the Workers’ Compensation Regulator. Your RRWC details must be registered on your WorkCover Queensland policy, including their name and contact details, address for each workplace covered by the RRTWC and a short statement about their qualifications.
You must also ensure that you have a documented business rehabilitation policy and procedure that’s reviewed every three years and up to date. These policies and procedures should meet the specifications outlined in Guidelines for Standard for Rehabilitation.
How we can help
Talk to your Gallagher Workplace Risk team about what these new compliance requirements mean for your Queensland-based business, including how to ensure:
- your existing rehabilitation protocols meet governmental standards
- you can demonstrate your compliance to RRTWC obligations and documentation
- you have identified and upskilled a suitable RRTWC.