Compo costs re­ally hurt em­ploy­ment

Tasmanian Country - - NEWS - Wayne John­ston

THE are many costs as­so­ci­ated with farm­ing, none more so than the labour com­po­nent many farms need to use to get the job done. Of­ten this in­volves sea­sonal work, par­tic­u­larly in the veg­etable and fruit in­dus­tries. The Tas­ma­nian dairy sec­tor also has a sig­nif­i­cant em­ployed work­force.

A ma­jor com­po­nent in em­ploy­ing in­di­vid­u­als, not only on farms but across the busi­ness community, is worker’s com­pen­sa­tion pre­mi­ums. Any rea­son­able em­ployer recog­nises they need to make pro­vi­sion for em­ploy­ees if they are in­jured in a work en­vi­ron­ment. In­deed farm­ers, as re­spon­si­ble em­ploy­ers, seek to min­imise th­ese many risks with the aim of mak­ing their work­places, in this case farms, ac­ci­dent-free.

This is a sit­u­a­tion made more dif­fi­cult by the fact that farms, by na­ture, have com­plex, on­go­ing and var­ied risks. The use of heavy ma­chin­ery, live­stock man­age­ment, fer­ti­tu­nity liser ap­pli­ca­tion, and so on, all come with in­her­ent risks.

As em­ploy­ers we un­der­stand this. How­ever, if we are to con­tinue to em­ploy peo­ple and un­der­pin re­gional jobs, worker’s com­pen­sa­tion pre­mi­ums need to be re­duced.

In Tas­ma­nia a sig­nif­i­cant step in this di­rec­tion could be ac­com­plished by re­vis­ing the rel­e­vant leg­is­la­tion to en­sure manda­tory re­port­ing by po­ten­tial em­ploy­ees of ex­ist­ing in­juries or ail­ments is re­quired.

All too of­ten peo­ple are em­ployed only to re­veal later a pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tion and then make a claim against their new em­ployer. As a di­rect re­sult that em­ployer’s pre­mi­ums in­crease – in some cases sub­stan­tially. The re­al­ity is, as pre­mi­ums in­crease, the op­por- to em­ploy oth­ers within the busi­ness de­creases.

With some pre­mi­ums now in ex­cess of 10 per cent of the wages bill busi­nesses are find­ing that it is no longer sus­tain­able to em­ploy staff. This is not only a neg­a­tive re­sult for the in­di­vid­ual em­ployee, but it is detri­men­tal to the farmer or the busi­ness owner and to the econ­omy more broadly.

Surely, in a state such as Tas­ma­nia with its tra­di­tion­ally high un­em­ploy­ment, par­tic­u­larly among the young, we should be look­ing at ev­ery av­enue to en­cour­age em­ploy­ers to not only re­tain their work­force but to ex­pand it.

We can­not cry foul when we lose jobs over­seas if we have priced our­selves out of the labour mar­ket. Un­less this is­sue and oth­ers as­so­ci­ated with em­ploy­ing peo­ple are not ad­dressed, this will hap­pen.

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