THE State Government has described proposed changes to the Tasmanian workers' compensation system as fair, but the business community fears the changes could cost hundreds of jobs.
It has been estimated that the proposed reforms will increase total claims costs by about 14 per cent and could be expected to increase the average premium rate from 1.97 per cent to 2.26 per cent of wages.
Workplace Relations Minister Lisa Singh said the Government had put forward a package that encouraged return to work and tried to support a fair deal for workers.
The changes, which will be introduced to Parliament later this year and are expected to take effect from July 1 next year, include:
An increase in the lump sum for death or permanent impairment from around $222,000 to $250,000.
A change to step-down provisions that will mean injured workers will receive 90 per cent of normal weekly earnings after 26 weeks of impairment, up from the existing 85 per cent after 13 weeks.
A reduction in the threshold for access to common law damages from 30 per cent whole person impairment to 20 per cent whole person impairment.
Premier David Bartlett said: "Ultimately our policy goal is to encourage an outcome where every Tasmanian that walks into a workplace on any given day walks out again in good health."
He said the current system was in need of serious reform.
"I've met Tasmanians who have suffered some terrible workplace injuries that I think have not been as well cared for under the current system as I think they have a right to be," he said.
Unions Tasmania secretary Simon Cocker welcomed the reforms, which follow the Clayton review, but said they did not go far enough.
"Improvements are going to help the most seriously injured workers," he said.
"All of those changes aren't everything that we asked for ... We've worked very hard to try to convince the Government to get rid of step downs in pay; (injured workers) have already lost allowances and overtime."
But Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief workplace relations adviser David Dilger has warned that the changes could cost jobs.
"Any increase in non-wage labour costs will impact on business and it'll particularly impact on jobs ... and this could be in the hundreds," he said.