The proposed changes

The Federal parliament introduced the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Legislation Amendment Bill 2014 (Cth) (Bill) on 19 March 2014.

The Bill proposes a number of changes to the national scheme for workers’ compensation and seeks to:

  • broaden the range of corporations eligible for a licence to self-insure under the Comcare scheme.  It proposes to do this by changing the definition of ‘national employer’ to be a reference to an employer that is required to meet workers’ compensation obligations under the laws of two or more states or territories.
  • remove the need for the minister to declare eligibility to apply for a self-insurance licence.
  • allow an eligible group of corporations, owned by the same holding company, to apply for a group licence.

If passed, the legislation will see approximately 2000 businesses eligible to apply for a licence to self-insure.

Current status

The Bill is currently before the Senate.  Last July, the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee (Committee) recommended that the Bill be passed.

Other factors

The Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Legislation Amendment (Exit Arrangements) Bill 2015 (Cth)(Exit Arrangements Bill) and the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Amendment (Improving Comcare) Bill 2015 (Cth) (Improving Comcare Bill) have since been introduced.

The Improving Comcare Bill proposes a number of changes relating to entitlements and is currently before the House of Representatives.

The Exit Arrangements Bill proposes financial and other arrangements for Commonwealth authorities seeking to exit the Comcare scheme.  The Exit Arrangements Bill has been refered to the Education and Employment Legislation Committee.  The closing date for submissions is 10 April 2015 and the reporting date is 8 May 2015.

There is broad support for reform of the Comcare scheme and with the pending exit of one of the scheme’s biggest clients, the ACT government, the scheme clearly requires attention.

Next step

Senate debate on the Bill was adjourned last November and is set to proceed on 11 May 2015.