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Labour releases ACC policy

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Labour has released its policy for rebuilding a fair accident compensation system.

Labour ACC spokesperson Ruth Dyson said the next Labour Government will restore the principles upon which the original scheme was built 25 years ago.

"It is vital that Labour takes swift and decisive action to restore public confidence in ACC. The Corporation's three primary functions will be injury prevention, rehabilitation and compensation - in that order."

Injury Prevention:

"Injury prevention will become a statutory responsibility of the Corporation. ACC will be given the power to reduce levies where a workplace has reduced the level of risk.

"The current system of experience rating is ineffective, unfair and counter-productive. It can make employers wary of hiring workers with incapacity and is an incentive to classify workplace accidents as having a non-workplace origin. Experience rating is contrary to the interests of rehabilitation and will be abolished.

"The Corporation will be required to play a leading role in safety education, not just in the workplace, but in the home and in recreational activities."

Rehabilitation:

"Central to Labour's reconstruction of the ACC scheme is rehabilitation. Injured people have a right to assistance to restore their lives and international research shows that for every one dollar spent on good rehabilitation, five dollars is saved in compensation.

"Restrictive legislation and regulations will be revoked and replaced with a rehabilitation code. The current arbitrary limit on the number of treatments hinders rehabilitation in many cases. The Corporation will be given discretion to approve additional treatments.

"Labour will require a guarantee of job security for injured workers. Large employers will be required to keep a job open for 12 months. An employee unable to return to their previous job will be given every assistance to find alternative employment. If a worker accepts employment at a lower income, Labour will ensure they will not be financially disadvantaged as a result."


Compensation:

"Labour will continue the entitlement to earnings-related compensation set at 80 percent of pre-accident earnings. People with a partial permanent disability will receive on-going entitlement.

"For people who have fluctuating incomes, there will be a fairer assessment of their lost earnings.

"Labour will reintroduce a lump sum compensation provision. For permanent loss of faculty, the maximum level of payment will be set at $100,000. For loss of enjoyment of life, the maximum lump sum will be $15,000.

"The Corporation will have the flexibility to meet the costs associated with an accident and subsequent incapacity, including home help and travel costs. A funeral grant will also be made available."

Governance and Funding:

"The current structure does not deliver clear accountability and efficiency. Under Labour, ACC will be delivered through a single public fund model. Labour will appoint a Board, supported by small skills-based advisory panels. The extent to which the Board is deemed to have fulfilled its contract will be assessed in terms of financial prudence, injury reduction and effective rehabilitation.

"Private insurance companies will be removed from providing workplace accident coverage. Labour will allow insurers the option of a buy-out of their claim liabilities, subject to an independent assessment.

"Political interference has distorted levy setting. Under Labour, the levy setting processes will be transparent and volatility in levy movements will be removed.


"ACC can be rebuilt to serve the New Zealand public in the way in which it was originally envisaged to do. That is our intention and we will endeavour to make the transition from the current shambles to the new system as smooth as possible," Ruth Dyson concluded.

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