WorkCover insurance premiums to rise in revamped scheme
What you need to know
- The Victorian WorkCover scheme will be relaunched on 1 July with major changes.
- Premiums for employers will increase to an average of 1.8 per cent of remuneration to ensure the ongoing sustainability of the scheme.
- Return to Work Victoria will also launch on 1 July to focus on supporting injured workers and people with work-related mental stress to return to work or take training pathways.
- The modernised scheme will reduce eligibility for some mental health claims and create pathways back to work for the long-term WorkCover recipients.
- A WorkSafe representative will attend the next NDS OHS meeting on 5 July to discuss the premium increases.
The Victorian Government has announced major changes to the WorkCover program from 1 July, including an increase in premiums. It follows a review of the WorkCover scheme two years ago and recommendations for change made in March 2023. Eligibility changes for the scheme will come into effect after new legislation is passed later this year.
Since WorkCover’s inception in 2010, claims liability has tripled and weekly support costs have increased. There has also been an increase in mental injury claims, which now represent 16 per cent of new claims. Doubts have been raised on the moral and ethical standards of some insurance agents when assessing legitimate claims.
Last financial year, WorkCover reported a deficit of $1.6 billion, after the previous year's deficit of $3.9 billion. The total compensation paid out to workers surpassed the premium income from organisations by $1.1 billion dollars.
To restore WorkCover to financial sustainability, premiums will increase to an average of 1.8 per cent of remuneration so the system can continue to support workers and businesses. As a point of comparison, Queensland’s WorkCover premium is 1.23 per cent, NSW is 1.48 per cent, and Tasmania and ACT sit above two per cent.
The government has promised to return savings to the scheme to keep business premiums low.
NDS notes the potential financial impact on disability services of this rise in premiums. NDS members are invited to attend the next Victorian Occupational Health and Safety meeting on 5 July when the WorkSafe Director of Premium and Self Insurance will give a presentation.
The Labor government has announced that it will create a new agency called Return to Work Victoria, designed to assist people to get back to work or on a training pathway.
Aligning with other states and territories, WorkSafe will launch a new physical and mental impairment test for workers who receive weekly payments beyond two-and-a-half years or 130 weeks. Workers will have to show more than 20 per cent Whole Person Impairment to continue receiving payments and benefits from Return to Work services.
Harassment, bullying and post-traumatic stress disorder will remain on the scheme, but people experiencing stress or burnout will no longer receive the weekly payments. Instead, they will receive provisional payments for 13 weeks (about three months) to cover medical treatment and psychosocial support. This will not be retrospective. There is concern that people will not be able to access timely services because of extensive waits for psychiatry and mental health support.
Frontline workers will continue to be supported through WorkSafe with prevention of injuries and support for claims of physical and mental injuries from workplace harassment, bullying and traumatic events.
For more information on the modernisation of WorkCover, including factsheets on the scheme, eligibility and premium changes, visit the WorkCover website.
For more information on WorkCover Insurance go to the WorkSafe webpage.