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Unions worried about new ACC levy discount scheme

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Helen Kelly
Helen Kelly

Wellington, July 15 NZPA - Rewarding businesses with good safety records by giving them ACC levy discounts could lead to some of them covering up workplace accidents, unions and the Labour Party say.

ACC Minister Nick Smith announced yesterday that from April next year businesses will receive up to 50 percent discounts, or up to 50 percent penalties, on their ACC workplace levies depending on their claims records.

He said the changes were being made to provide stronger incentives to improve workplace safety and to make levies fairer, because businesses with good safety records were subsidising those with the most accidents.

"New Zealand's workplace safety does not compare well internationally with more than one worker killed and another 600 injured each week," he said.

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," she said.

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

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

Mr Parker said it was appropriate to reward employers with good safety records but there would have to be careful monitoring to make sure they didn't abuse the system.

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

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