Are brokers talking to their clients about Workers Comp Insurance?

Workcover WA has recently tweeted about a carpentry business that was penalised for failing to have a valid workers’ compensation insurance policy.

The details available on the case include the fact that from July 2011 to June 2014, the owner of a carpentry business employed workers without holding a current workers’ compensation insurance policy to cover their workers in the case of a workplace injury or illness. On 4 July 2016 the employer was fined $500 for the offense and was ordered to pay $4,643.42 in avoided insurance premium costs during the period, and a further $625 in court costs for a total of $5,768.42.

Although this is a moderate example, such penalties can have a large impact on small businesses and can be easily avoided by having the right insurance in place. It should also be noted that the cost of any uninsured claims for workers’ compensation can total hundreds of thousands of dollars, and have a very heavy impact on an employer’s business and personal assets. It is therefore important that brokers continue to inform and educate their clients about their workers’ compensation obligations, as well as the costs of non-compliance.

Non-compliance is generally said to be more prevalent in small businesses. According to the latest ABS Counts of Australian Businesses, as at June 2015 there were 2,066,806 small businesses nationwide, with 214,197 in WA.

In terms of the overall level of non-compliance (not just small business), statistics available in Workcover WA Annual Report 2015/16 include the following:

In 2015/16, WorkCover WA conducted 757 compliance investigations across the State. From these investigations, 189 infringement notices were issued and a further 31 prosecutions were completed against non-compliant employers, with the largest totalling $70,338.02 in fines, avoided premium and associated costs.

General stats for WA can also be found from the Small Business Development Corporation website.