Owner-drivers to be denied workers compensation in Queensland


Queensland Government proposes legislative changes that will exclude owner-drivers from workers compensation protection

Owner-drivers to be denied workers compensation in Queensland
Owner-drivers to be denied workers compensation in Queensland
By Brad Gardner | May 1, 2013

Owner-drivers will be denied access to workers compensation in Queensland under government plans to change the definition of ‘worker’ to exclude contractors.

Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie yesterday introduced the Industrial Relations (Transparency and Accountability of Industrial Organisations) and Other Acts Amendment Bill to adopt the Australian Taxation Office's meaning of ‘worker’.

Bleijie says the current definition in Queensland’s Workers Compensation and Rehabilitation Act has caused confusion among businesses.

"Examples of persons who will no longer be covered for workers compensation as a result of the change to the definition are those who supply and operate their own plant, such as earthmoving equipment or trucks as part of their contract," Bleijie says.

"Many of these individuals currently already have 24-hour sickness and accident insurance, and the change will provide clarity for them and reduce costs to the employers with whom they contract."

The Opposition’s Curtis Pitt accused the Government of trying to make it harder for genuine claimants to pursue their rights under the workers compensation scheme.

"Any narrowing of the definition of a worker when there are still some workers that ought to be included under the current definition is just wrong," he says.

"Tradies and subcontractors are among those who might lose access to the scheme. They are the people who will be defined as independent contractors and not be included in the definition of a worker and they are the ones who stand to lose."

Pitt also criticised the Government for pre-empting the work of the Parliamentary Finance and Administration Committee, which is currently reviewing the definition of ‘worker’ and is due to report its findings on May 23.

"The attorney general has shown contempt for the committee system and its independent role in undertaking a review into the iconic worker’s compensation scheme," he says.

However, Bleijie says he needed to act before the committee finished its work.

"This timeframe does not enable the Government to consider its response to the recommendations in time to impact premium renewals for the 2013-14 period, thereby preventing any reduction in affected employers’ premiums being implemented before the 2014-15 financial year," he says.

He adds that the Bill will also impose more requirements on unions when entering an employer's premise.

"This includes additional requirements on unions around provision of entry notices, 24 hours in writing prior to entry as well as content of entry notices," he says.

Furthermore, the Bill will require unions to maintain publicly available disclosure registers on the 10 highest paid officials and employees, material personal interests and all gifts and benefits over $500 received and given.

Unions wanting to spend more than $10,000 on campaigns and political activities will need to seek approval of members through a ballot, the result of which must also be made publicly available.

"Through greater accountability and transparency, elected officials of industrial organisations registered in Queensland will be required to meet the same standards of accountability and transparency demanded of elected public officials and local government officials in Queensland," Bleijie says.

The Bill has been referred to the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee for examination.

Bookmark and Share




You can also follow our updates by liking us on Facebook