Workers compensation provides protection to workers and their employers in the event of a work related injury or disease. Through the workers compensation system, injured workers may have an entitlement to weekly payments, lump sums for permanent impairment, payment of medical bills and intensive rehabilitation assistance. New work health and safety laws replaced the occupational health and safety (OHS) laws in NSW on 1 January 2012. The new laws will provide greater consistency, certainty and clarity making it easier to understand your work health and safety duties.

All New South Wales (NSW) employers must have a workers compensation policy if they pay more than $7500 in wages per annum, employ an apprentice or trainee, or are part of a group for premium purposes.

The NSW workers compensation system comprises four elements:

1. New South Wales WorkCover Scheme – provides workers compensation insurance through contracted Scheme Agents to employers operating in New South Wales.
2. SICorp (through the Treasury Managed Fund) – manages workers compensation, administration and financial liability for most public sector employers except those who are self-insurers.
3. Self-insurers – organisations with enough capital to underwrite, pay and manage their own claims. There are strict criteria that employers must meet prior to WorkCover granting a self-insurers licence.
4. Specialised insurers – hold restricted licences to underwrite workers compensation insurance risk for a specific industry or class of business or employers.

At the beginning and end of each workers compensation insurance policy period an employer must supply their Scheme Agent with a declaration of their wages. The workers compensation premium will be based on the amount of wages. Employers declare their wages on the Wages declaration form supplied by their Scheme Agent.

Where a payment to a worker is made in lieu of wages (regardless of the terminology used to describe that payment), the payment is counted as wages for the purposes of premium calculations.  Total gross earnings (before tax deductions) and some payments that are not generally thought of as wages are included.  Employers are required to calculate their wages for workers compensation premiums in much the same way they do for payroll tax.

Even though workers compensation policies are in place if something unfortunate happens to an employer or employee, nothing beats the old saying of ‘it’s better to be safe than sorry.’ In accordance with Occupational Health and Safety laws employers must legally and ethically provide:

• Safe premises
• Safe machinery and substances
• Safe systems of work
• Information, instruction, training and supervision for workers
• Suitable working environment and facilities

Here at The Quinn Group we can help you with any of your business’ Workers Compensation issues. Whether it is the calculation of wages, implementing workers compensation policies or legal matters our experienced team of lawyers and accountants can assist. Submit an online enquiry or call us on 1300 QUINNS (1300 784 667) or on +61 2 9223 9166 to book an appointment.