Labour On ACC
Labour On ACC
Nearly thirty years ago, New Zealand introduced an accident compensation scheme, which was a major extension of the previous workers’ compensation model. It extended coverage to all injured people, regardless of place of accident and regardless of fault, but on the basis that their right to sue in the Courts was removed. The ‘social contract’ entered into at that time was fair compensation in return for the removal of the right to sue.
The founding principles were:
• Community responsibility.
• Comprehensive entitlement.
• Complete rehabilitation.
• Real compensation.
• Administrative efficiency.
The Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2001, which came into force on 1 April 2002, reaffirms those principles. It provides for a fair and sustainable scheme that emphasises injury prevention, while minimising the impact of injuries (including economic, social and personal costs). Labour is committed to ensuring the long-term viability of the scheme.
The Labour led government has:
• Returned ACC workplace cover to state provision, away from the costly private insurance model and refocused the system on injury prevention.
• Rewarded employers for injury prevention through the voluntary Workplace Safety Management Practices Programme. Employers receive a discount on their levies if they demonstrate good safety management systems.
• Provided the CoverPlus Extra option for self-employed earners, so that they can tailor their cover to meet their individual requirements.
• Reduced the average cost of workplace cover from $1.20/$100 payroll during the period of privatisation to 90c/$100 payroll.
• Put the focus back onto injury prevention and rehabilitation through the Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2001. Improved compensation provisions also include eligibility for lump sum payments to people who are permanently impaired as a result of their injury (up to $100,000).
• Provided improved access to compensation for seasonal and casual workers and for people on parental leave.
• Doubled the budget for injury prevention enabling funding of new injury prevention and safety promotion programmes.
• Launched partnership programmes with approved employers.
• Commenced work on developing a Code of ACC Claimants’ Rights. The Labour led government has delivered on Labour’s commitments. However, there are further goals Labour wants to achieve.
PRIORITIES FOR LABOUR’S SECOND TERM
• Establish a Ministerial Advisory Group on ACC to ensure that there is an independent and reliable source of policy advice from the relevant stakeholders.
• Complete the development of the New Zealand Injury Prevention Strategy to ensure that New Zealand is a safe place to live and work.
• Extend the concept of discounts to reward safe practice, which currently exists for the employers’ account, to include the self-employed account.
• Undertake a detailed review of the medical misadventure provisions of the scheme.
• Work towards compliance with ILO Convention 17, which requires that the treatment costs of work-related injuries are not passed on to the injured worker.
• Develop a cross-agency response to funding counseling for individuals who experience or directly witness trauma and who are not covered by the ACC scheme.