The Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations has today announced the terms of reference for a review of the Comcare scheme and has invited written submissions from interested parties.
The Comcare scheme provides workers’ compensation and OHS arrangements for Australian Government employees and for the employees of certain private corporations which self-insure under the scheme.
The purpose of the review is to ensure that Comcare is a suitable OHS and worker’ compensation system for self insurers and their employees.
With the expansion of the types of industries covered by the Comcare scheme in 2006, the Rudd Government is particularly concerned that all employees covered under the scheme are protected by rigorous OHS safeguards and appropriate workers’ compensation benefits.
Following the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission meeting on 12 December 2007, there are now 19 licensed self-insurers, with a further 15 corporations eligible to apply for a licence to self-insure.
The Government wants to hear the views of stakeholders and so will undertake national consultation with relevant groups prior to the review finalising its recommendations.
Written submissions can be forwarded to the Commonwealth Safety and Compensation Policy Branch, Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, Loc 64N31, GPO Box 9879, Canberra ACT 2601 or emailed to ComcareReview@dewr.gov.au by 29 February 2008.
A report will be provided to the Minister by the end of July 2008.
Terms of reference for the Comcare review
The review should provide information and recommendations on the following issues:
Safety and Compensation
a) Does the scheme provide appropriate OHS and workers’ compensation coverage for workers employed by self-insurers?
b) Does the scheme regulator now have the enforcement policy and operational capacity to ensure self-insurers provide safe workplaces? What are the likely operational requirements should the scheme’s coverage be expanded?
c) What arrangements are required to ensure that all workers and contractors working at workplaces controlled by self-insurers have their health and safety protected, regardless of coverage by Commonwealth, or State and Territory OHS legislation?
d) What effect have the recent changes to theSafety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988had on the rehabilitation and return to work of injured workers?
e) Does the scheme achieve effective return to work outcomes?
f) Does the requirement that employees be consulted about their employer’s intention to apply for a self-insurance licence with Comcare (or vary an existing licence) result in meaningful discussion about occupational health and safety and workers’ compensation coverage?
g) Does the scheme ensure ongoing consultation with, and the involvement of, employees and their representatives in relation to workplace safety arrangements at workplaces of self insurers?
h) Do the financial arrangements for self-insurers present any risk to premium payers in the scheme or to the Commonwealth?
i) What are the likely impacts on state and territory workers’ compensation schemes of corporations exiting those schemes to join Comcare?
j) Why do private companies seek self insurance with Comcare? Are there alternatives available to address the costs and red tape for employers with operations across jurisdictions having to deal with multiple occupational health and safety and workers’ compensation systems?
k) If self insurance under the Comcare scheme remains open to eligible corporations, should there be changes to the eligibility rules for obtaining a licence to self-insure under Comcare?