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ACC changes could encourage accident cover-ups - CTU

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Helen Kelly
Helen Kelly

Wellington, July 14 NZPA - Discounts on ACC levies for businesses with good safety records will encourage some employers to cover up workplace accidents, opponents say.

The Government announced today that businesses paying more than $10,000 a year in ACC workplace levies would be eligible for a discount, or a penalty, of up to 50 percent based on their claims history over the previous three years.

For smaller businesses there would be a simple system of no-claims bonuses and high-claim penalties.

ACC Minister Nick Smith said the changes, from April 1 next year, would provide stronger incentives to improve workplace safety and to make levies fairer.

But Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly said the move would weaken health and safety practices by distorting accident reporting.

"Rewarding employers for a lower claims rate doesn't reduce accidents but provides incentives for accidents to be covered up."

Employers could fail to report accidents, misrepresent them as not being workplace related, or bully employees into not seeking treatment, she said.

"The move to no-claims bonuses for small employers is especially worrying -- no claims is not the same as no accidents and will cause workers to miss out on care."

The changes -- known as "experience rating" -- were preparing the ACC work account for privatisation, Ms Kelly said.

"Experience rating is all about setting premium levels to move cover to private insurers in the future."

Labour ACC spokesman David Parker said the changes could encourage some employers not to report accidents in order to protect discounted ACC levies.

While it was appropriate to reward employers with good safety records, there would need to be careful monitoring to discourage abuse, he said.

"There will also be additional compliance and administration costs because of the differing levies between employers."

Mr Parker said it was disappointing that the changes had been announced before the release of the ACC stocktake reports, the first of which the Government has had for months.

"We remain concerned that National continues to exaggerate and mislead on issues at ACC in order to pursue its privatisation agenda."

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