The Financial Services Council (FSC) has found at least some support for its push to allow life insurers greater involvement in getting injured workers back on the job from a key employer organisation – the Australian Industry Group (AIG).
AIG has used its submission to the Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services to argue that there may be some limited role for life insurers but also pointed to a range of legislative barriers, including a need to align the workers compensation laws of the various states and territories.
The FSC proposal has been strongly opposed by unions and the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) but the AIG pointed to some up-sides.
It said employers had obligations under state and territory laws to ensure that they eliminated or minimised risks so far as is reasonably practicable and that penalties for not doing so were high, both for organisations and the officers that had overall control of workplaces.
The AIG submission said a private sector life insurer who was attempting to facilitate a return to work for one of their clients might be able to assist the employer to identify how best to modify the workplace and/or work to protect the returning worker.
“This could be achieved by funding the services of a Work Health and Safety Adviser or Occupational Rehabilitation Provider to assist the employer to adjust or modify the workplace,” it said, adding that it might also be appropriate for the life insurer to fund the costs of modifications that are required.
Pointing to the multiple workers’ compensation jurisdictions, the AIG submission said that dealing with health and safety risks could not be dealt with by the private sector life insurers in isolation.
“In order to protect an employer from the risk of workers’ compensation obligations and costs there would need to be an arrangement made with the workers’ compensation scheme to cover any potential costs,” it said. “It is likely that this could only occur if legislation was changed in each workers’ compensation jurisdiction.”