On 19 March 2014 the Hon. Christopher Pyne MP introduced the Safety,
Rehabilitation and Compensation Legislation Amendment Bill 2014 (bill) in the
House of Representatives.
On 15 May 2014 the Senate referred the provisions of the bill to the Senate Education
and Employment Legislation Committee (committee) for inquiry and report by 8 July
Conduct of inquiry
Details of the inquiry were made available on the committee's website.
The committee also contacted a number of organisations inviting submissions to
the inquiry. Submissions were received from 18 organisations, as detailed in
A public hearing was held in Canberra on 20 June 2014. The witness list
for the hearing is available in Appendix 2.
Commission's 2004 Inquiry into National Workers' Compensation and
Occupational Health and Safety Frameworks recommended that a national
workers' compensation scheme be developed to operate in parallel to existing
state and territory schemes. Specifically, it suggested the following steps be
step 1 – immediately encourage self-insurance applications
from employers who meet the current competition test to self-insure under the
Comcare scheme, subject to meeting its prudential, claims management,
occupational, health and safety and other requirements; step 2 – commence, at
the same time, the development of an alternative self-insurance scheme for
corporate employers who wish to join such a scheme, and who meet prudential,
claims management and other requirements.
In 2007 the
previous government placed a moratorium on new applications for declarations of
eligibility from private sector corporations seeking self-insurance under the
to group employer licences, the Department of Education, Employment and
Workplace Relations 2008 Review of Self-insurance arrangements under the
Comcare scheme recommended that:
...[t]he Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act be amended
so that... corporations forming part of a group of related corporations are able
to be assessed as a group...; and the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act
be amended to enable the Safety Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission to
grant a group licence to a related eligible corporation.
the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRC Act) Review
by Dr Allan Hawke AC, commissioned by the former government in 2012 (Hawke
Review), recommended that the 'moratorium and competition test should be
lifted, allowing national employers to join the Comcare scheme.' Further, it recommended that:
...[t]he SRC Act should be amended to allow the Commission to
grant group licences to companies of licenced self-insurers with more than one
entity, subject to satisfying all prudential requirements, in order to reduce
administrative costs for scheme participation....
Review concluded that removing the competition test would:
...[a]ssist in reducing red tape, while broadening the Comcare
scheme to allow a national approach for employers who satisfy the associated
set of criteria and would build on the national disability strategy and
On 2 December
2013 the current government lifted the moratorium.
The bill seeks to implement the recommendations of the Hawke Review,
and implement government commitments with respect to building a stronger and
more prosperous economy. Specifically, it seeks to reduce the regulatory impact
on the economy by $32.8 million each year for the next 10 years.
The bill also proposes to respond to community expectations concerning
Overview of the bill
The bill proposes to amend the SRC Act and the Work Health Safety Act
2011 (WHS Act). The proposed amendments would:
remove the requirement for the Minister for Employment (Minister)
to declare a corporation to be eligible to be granted a licence for
self-insurance, while retaining the ability for the Minister to give direction
to the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission (Commission);
enable corporations currently required to meet workers'
compensation obligations under two or more workers' compensation laws of a
state or territory to apply to the Commission for approval to be a self-insurer
in the Comcare scheme;
allow a former Commonwealth authority to apply directly to the
Commission for approval to be a self-insurer in the Comcare scheme and be
granted a group licence if the authority meets the 'national employer' test;
enable the Commission to grant 'group employer licenses' to
make consequential changes to extend the coverage provisions of
the WHS Act to those corporations that obtain a licence to self-insure under
the SRC Act; and
exclude access to workers' compensation where: (i) a person
engages in serious and wilful misconduct even if the injury results in death or
serious and permanent impairment; or (ii) injuries occur during recess breaks
away from an employer's premises; or (iii) injuries are sustained because a
person voluntarily and unreasonably submitted to an abnormal risk of injury.
Structure of the bill
The bill is comprised of five schedules.
group employer licences
injury caused by misconduct
recess in employment
abnormal risk of
Schedule 1: national employers
Schedule 1 proposes to introduce a 'national employer' test for licence
eligibility and remove the requirement for the Minister to make a declaration
before a licence application can be made. The 'national employer' test replaces
the current requirement that in order to obtain a licence under the SRC Act a
corporation must be carrying on business in competition with a Commonwealth
authority or with another corporation that was previously a Commonwealth
authority. The 'national employer' test proposes that a corporation that has
employer obligations in two or more Australian jurisdictions would classify as
a national employer, and therefore, assuming it satisfies the other
requirements of the SRC Act, could obtain a licence under the SRC Act, bringing
all of its employees under a single workers' compensation jurisdiction.
Schedule 1 also sets out terms to ensure that employers who are granted
a licence under the SRC Act are covered by the WHS Act.
Schedule 2: group employer licences
Instead of requiring each corporation to apply for an individual
licence, schedule 2 proposes to introduce a licensing scheme whereby one 'group
employer licence' can be issued to a group of corporations which are related
Schedule 3: injury caused by
Schedule 3 proposes to remove eligibility for workers' compensation
where an injury results in death or serious and permanent impairment that is
caused by the serious and wilful misconduct of the employee.
Schedule 4: recess in employment
Schedule 4 proposes to remove eligibility for workers' compensation where
an injury is sustained by the employee while the employee was not at their
place of work during a recess break.
Schedule 4 also proposes to remove eligibility for workers' compensation
where an injury is sustained by the employee because he or she voluntarily and
unreasonably submitted to an abnormal risk of injury.
Schedule 5: technical provisions
Schedule 5 proposes to make technical amendments only.
Human rights implications
The explanatory memorandum details the bill's engagement of numerous
human rights instruments:
the right to social security, including social insurance, under
Article 9 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural
the right to safe and healthy working conditions, under Article 7
the right to privacy, under Article 17 of the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR);
the right to work, under Article 6 of ICESR, in particular the
rights of persons with disabilities to habilitation and rehabilitation and to
work and employment, under Articles 26 and 27 of the Convention on the
Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRDP), respectively.
The explanatory memorandum states that the bill is compatible with human
rights because it advances the protection of human rights. Further it argues:
To the extent that the amendments may limit human rights,
those limitations are reasonable, necessary and proportionate.
Financial Impact Statement
The Department of Employment has not provided a Financial Impact
The committee thanks those individuals and organisations who contributed
to the inquiry by preparing written submissions and giving evidence at the
Notes on references
References in this report to the Hansard for the public hearing are to
the Proof Hansard. Please note that page numbers may vary between the Proof
Hansard and the official transcripts.
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