Comparison of Workers’ Compensation Arrangements in Australia and New Zealand (2012)

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Comparison of workers’ compensation arrangements in Australia and New Zealand

April 2012

© Commonwealth of Australia (Safe Work Australia) 2012.

Creative Commons

ISBN 978-0-642-33345-2 (pdf)
978-0-642-33346-9 (rtf)

978-0-642-78348-6 (print)

With the exception of the Safe Work Australia logo, this report is licensed by Safe Work Australia under a Creative Commons 3.0 Australia Licence. To view a copy of this licence, visit

In essence, you are free to copy, communicate and adapt the work, as long as you attribute the work to Safe Work Australia and abide by the other licensing terms. The report should be attributed as Comparison of workers’ compensation arrangements in Australia and New Zealand, 2011–12.

Enquiries regarding the licence and any use of the report are welcome at:

Copyright Officer

Communications, IT and Knowledge Management

Safe Work Australia

GPO Box 641 Canberra ACT 2601



The information provided in this document can only assist you in the most general way. This document does not replace any statutory requirements under any relevant State and Territory legislation. Safe Work Australia accepts no liability arising from the use of or reliance on the material contained on this document, which is provided on the basis that Safe Work Australia is not thereby engaged in rendering professional advice. Before relying on the material, users should carefully make their own assessment as to its accuracy, currency, completeness and relevance for their purposes, and should obtain any appropriate professional advice relevant to their particular circumstances. To the extent that the material in this document includes views or recommendations of third parties, such views or recommendations do not necessarily reflect the views of Safe Work Australia nor do they indicate a commitment to a particular course of action.


The Comparison of Workers’ Compensation Arrangements in Australia and New Zealand provides information on the operation of workers’ compensation schemes in each of the jurisdictions in Australia and New Zealand.

This edition of the Comparison report has been substantially revised and reformatted. The main changes are that:

  • Chapter 1 only includes recent developments and the information on the history and evolution of workers’ compensation schemes has been moved to Appendix 1.

  • Chapter 2 on Schemes at a Glance has been expanded to include all information of most interest to employers, workers and their representatives.

  • The sections on administrative arrangements and scheme funding arrangements have been combined into a single chapter and moved to the back of the report at Chapter 7.

  • The comparative table of deemed diseases has been moved to Appendix 2.

  • Chapter 5 on Return to Work has been substantially revised to provide briefer, more comparable data, and

  • The section on Self-insurer arrangements has been separated from the scheme funding arrangements and provided in a separate chapter (Chapter 6).

The Comparison provides background to the evolution of workers’ compensation arrangements in Australia and New Zealand, and discusses the way that each scheme deals with key aspects such as the size and nature of the schemes, coverage, benefits, return to work provisions, self-insurance, common law, dispute resolution and cross-border arrangements.

The majority of tables contained in this report provide a snapshot of workers’ compensation arrangements as at 30 September 2011. Note that the ACT has arrangements as at 30 June 2011. Information taken from the 13th edition of the Comparative Performance Monitoring report covers the 2009-10 financial year and some jurisdictions have reported recent developments to the end of December 2011. However, because each jurisdiction may vary its arrangements from time to time, and because there may be some exceptions to the arrangements described in this edition, readers wanting more up to date information should check with the relevant authority.

On behalf of the Heads of Workers’ Compensation Authorities (HWCA), the Victorian Workcover Authority produced this publication from 1993 to 2005. The Australian Safety and Compensation Council took over responsibility for the report in 2006 and produced it in 2006 and 2007. Safe Work Australia has been producing the report since 2008. The work of the Victorian Workcover Authority and the Australian Safety and Compensation Council is acknowledged. Safe Work Australia thanks the representatives from each jurisdiction for the valuable assistance they have provided in producing this edition of the Comparison.


Chapter 1: Recent developments in workers’ compensation schemes in Australia and New Zealand 5

Chapter 2 - Schemes at a glance 13

Table 2.1: Jurisdictional contacts 14

Table 2.2 Agencies responsible for overseeing workers’ compensation in each jurisdiction 16

Table 2.3: Key features of schemes 17

Table 2.4b: Guidelines and information for determining coverage of workers 21

Table 2.4c: Coverage of journeys and breaks 21

Table 2.4d: Definition of injury and employment contribution 22

Table 2.5: Summary of entitlements as at 30 September 2011 25

Table 2.6: Prescribed time periods for injury notification 28

Table 2.7: Prescribed time periods for claim submission 29

Table 2.8: Prescribed time periods for payments 31

Table 2.9: Dispute resolution process 33

Table 2.10: Definition of remuneration for the purpose of premium calculation 38

Table 2.11: Employer excess 40

Table 2.12: Uninsured employer provisions 41

Table 2.13: Leave accrual while on workers’ compensation 43

Table 2.14: Superannuation and workers’ compensation 45

Chapter 3 - Coverage and eligibility for benefits 46

Table 3.2: Deemed workers 50

Table 3.3: Treatment of sportspersons and sporting injuries 53

Table 3.4: Workers’ compensation arrangements for government employers 55

Table 3.5: Workers’ compensation arrangements for judges and members of parliament 57

Table 3.6: Industrial deafness thresholds 59

Table 3.7: Definition of work - journeys and breaks 59

Table 3.8: Definition of injury and relationship to employment - detailed 60

Table 3.9: Statutory definitions of permanent and impairment and criteria for determining whether impairment is permanent 63

Table 3.10: Permanent impairment guides 66

Table 3.11: Discounting of prior conditions 70

Table 3.13: Exclusionary provisions for psychological injuries 74

Table 3.14: Cross border provisions 78

Chapter 4 - Benefits 79

Table 4.1: Income replacement 81

Table 4.2: Medical, hospital and other costs 87

Table 4.3: Permanent impairment payments 93

Table 4.4: Death entitlements 96

Table 4.5: Definitions of dependants/ spouse for death benefits 98

Table 4.6: Common law provisions 104

Table 4.7: Suspension and cessation of benefits 107

Table 4.8 Incapacity benefits settlements 110

Chapter 5: Return to work 111

Table 5.1: Sections of workers’ compensation Acts and guidance material relating to return to work 112

Table 5.2a: Requirement to have a workplace rehabilitation/ return to work program or policy 115

Table 5.2b: Return to work plans - Individual return to work plans 119

Table 5.2c: Suitable duties 123

Table 5.2d: Other requirements of employers 127

Table 5.3: Responsibilities of workers 128

Table 5.4: Injured worker placement incentives 131

Table 5.5: Responsibilities of authority/ insurer 134

Table 5.6: Functions and training of workplace rehabilitation coordinators 136

Table 5.7a: Responsibilities of rehabilitation provider 141

Table 5.8: Prescribed time periods to establish a return to work plan 146

Chapter 6: Self-insurer arrangements 147

Table 6.1: Workers’ compensation and self-insurance coverage 149

Table 6.2: Criteria for becoming a self-insurer 150

Table 6.3: Approval process, application and ongoing costs and duration of licence 153

Table 6.4: Work health and safety requirements and auditing 157

Table 6.5: Bank guarantees/ prudential margins and excess of loss requirements 159

Table 6.6: Self-insurance restraints on company structure 161

Table 6.7 Outsourcing of Case Management 161

Table 6.8: Other ongoing licence requirements 163

Table 6.9: Reporting requirements 166

Table 6.10: Requirements for surrendering a self-insurance licence and penalties for exiting the scheme 173

Chapter 7: Scheme administrative and funding arrangements 175

Table 7.1: Applicable workers’ compensation legislation 177

Table 7.2: Transitional legislation provisions as at September 30 2011 178

Table 7.3a: Minor schemes - New South Wales* 179

Table 7.3b: Minor schemes - Victoria 181

Table 7.3c: Minor schemes - Western Australia 182

Table 7.3d: Minor schemes - South Australia 183

Table 7.3e: Minor schemes - Tasmania 183

Table 7.3f: Minor schemes - Commonwealth 184

Table 7.3g: Minor schemes - New Zealand 185

Table 7.4: Schemes’ funding positions as at 30 June 2011 and 30 June 2010 187

Table 7.5: Standardised average premium rates 2005-06 to 2009-10 (% of payroll) 189

Table 7.6: Selected industry premium rates as at 30 September 2011 (% of payroll) 190

Appendix 1 196

Appendix 2 222

Glossary 231

Acronyms and abbreviations 238

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