South Australia launches 'injured workers' protection bill

It is a 'sensible compromise' after consultations with business and workers

South Australia launches 'injured workers' protection bill

The government of South Australia is set to introduce reforms that seek to protect both injured workers' welfare as well as businesses from massive hikes in premiums.

Premier Peter Malinauskas said this follows consultation between the Labour Government, as well as business and worker representatives.

"I'm pleased we have been able to reach an agreement which protects workers and business," said Malinauskas in a statement. "I have long said I want to lead a pro-business Labour Government, which unashamedly protects workers but also strongly supports businesses."

Under the Return to Work (Scheme Sustainability) Bill 2022, injured workers with the same level of impairment will be treated the same, instead of basing the support they receive on whether the injuries they received are from one event or a series of related events.

In addition, it will ensure that businesses are protected by implementing sustainable premiums, which are kept below the legislated maximum target of two per cent.

According to the government, the key elements in the bill include:

  • Increasing the "seriously injured" threshold for physical injuries to 35% whole person impairment
  • Giving "seriously injured" workers the choice to receive a single lump-sum payment instead of weekly payments until retirement age, with "lump-sum payment" equivalent to the maximum economic-loss payment the worker would receive if they were not seriously injured.
  • Redemptions will be offered to "seriously injured" workers
    • Return to Work SA will offer redemptions of weekly payments to current seriously injured workers to reduce the past claims liability
    • These redemption offers will be on a "one-time only" basis because all new "seriously injured" workers will be able to elect to receive a lump-sum payment instead under the option above.

Read more: South Australia company fined $200K after $2.5 million underpayment

According to Malinauskas, the described the proposed reforms as "sensible compromise" for workers and businesses, after the government's previously introduced reforms received backlash from the union movement.

"This is a sensible compromise which ensures injured workers will get the protection they need, while also ensuring businesses are not hit with significant increases in their Return to Work premiums," he said.

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