Compo costs really hurt employment
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.