Australia’s peak retail body, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA), has warned that the decision to increase WorkCover premiums by 42% will put further pressure on businesses already struggling to manage higher costs.
The decision to raise the average premium to 1.8% of an employer’s payroll – above New South Wales at 1.48% and Queensland at 1.23%.
ARA CEO Paul Zahra said the increased charges will hit businesses already experiencing a cost of doing business crisis.
“Many small businesses are already severely challenged around cashflow. And our broader sector is experiencing really difficult economic conditions, with a consumer spending slowdown at the same time that operating costs – such as rent, fuel, energy and labour – continue to rise and a wave of retail crime that is impacting retailers’ margins and their teams’ wellbeing,” Mr Zahra said.
“This will be a bitter pill to swallow for a lot of retailers, who obviously want to do the right thing by their workers but who are being asked to carry the can for decades of poor decision making within this scheme.
“While we understand the need to ensure longevity of the scheme and continue protecting workers, there’s a delicate balancing act required to avoid sending small businesses, in particular, into the red.”
“Many businesses have been very proactive in reducing their level of work injuries, in an effort to reduce their operating costs and will be disappointed that they may not get the full cost benefit due to this significant increase in premiums. These costs can’t continue to be imposed on businesses, particularly small businesses which operate on tight margins.”
Mr Zahra also expressed concerns about potential limitations to mental health claims, amid reports stress and burnout will no longer be eligible for weekly WorkCover payments.
“This is disappointing for businesses and staff. We need to make sure the cumulative impacts of working in a stressful environment remain protected,” Mr Zahra added.
“It is especially important for the retail sector, where we are seeing common and repeated instances of antisocial, aggressive and criminal behaviour against staff.
“We will continue to consult with the government to ensure greater protections for retail workers, who are all too often exposed to violent and antisocial behaviour.
“If we can stop this type of behaviour from happening in the first place, then we’ll reduce the number of potential claims, which would be good for workers, good for their employers and good for the scheme’s viability,” said Mr Zahra.
M 0434 381 670