Bye Bye Byrne? Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation (National Injury Insurance Scheme) Amendment Bill 2016
The Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation (National Injury Insurance Scheme) Amendment Bill 2016 was tabled and read a first time in parliament on 14 June 2016.
In large part the Bill essentially mirrors the intent of the National Injury Insurance Scheme (Queensland) Act 2016 (NIIS) (which is relevant to persons injured in motor vehicle accidents) and prescribes for the parallel compensation of catastrophically injured workers, regardless of fault.
The NIIS and the Bill are part of the suite of Federal and State Disability benefits reform currently underway, and about to roll out with the commencement of the NDIS (federally) and the NIIS (in Queensland).
Importantly however, the Bill also proposes to amend the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 to clarify that WorkCover will not insure employers in respect of their contractual promises to pick up non-employers’ (principal contractors, host employers, etc.) liability for damages for personal injuries. Further to that, the Bill proposes to introduce a section (s236B) to the WCRA which confirms that WorkCover can still bring contribution claims notwithstanding any contractual arrangements between the employer and non-employer, to the contrary.
In doing so the Bill proposes to reverse the Supreme Court decision in Byrne v People Resourcing Qld Pty Ltd and is intended to prevent the contractual transfer of liability, to WorkCover.
The Bill has been referred to the Finance and Administration Committee and a report is due to be tabled in Parliament on 16 August 2016.