28 Jul 2015
There has been a marked increase in WA in the number of criminal prosecutions of employers without worker’s compensation insurance. Administrative oversight is more often than not the reason – but that reason is no excuse. Employers face receiving a criminal record and very large fines.
WorkCover WA investigates failures to maintain adequate worker’s compensation insurance. In recent times it has become relatively easy for investigators to identify offending employers by requiring insurance companies to notify them whenever a worker’s compensation policy is not renewed, lapses or is cancelled.
In Western Australia an employer who allows employees to work for any amount of time while a current worker’s compensation policy is not in place can be prosecuted.
If found guilty, the employer will be made to pay the amount of the avoided premium plus a hefty fine of between $5,000 and $25,000 per worker who was uninsured. The legislation doesn’t take account of whether workers were employed for only a few hours per week or full time. The amount of the fine is fixed per worker.
Even small businesses with only 10 workers will face fines of between $50,000 – $250,000 for uninsured periods that may only cover a matter of weeks.
Employers will also receive a criminal record which can impact travel opportunities, future employment or even the willingness of other businesses to contract with them.
Of the published convictions in 2015 so far the total penalty imposed is averaging $12,000 per case with one small business in Rockingham being ordered to pay over $30,000.
Tips for Employers:
Early legal advice if you are being investigated or have been charged can have a marked effect on the outcome of your case.
HHG Legal Group has successfully represented a number of employers in 2015, and through careful negotiation with the prosecution and persuasive pleas in mitigation has ensured the penalties received are amongst the very lowest on record. In addition all of the employers we represented had the convictions spent – which means they did not receive a criminal record.
This is general information only, and does not constitute specific legal advice. If you would like further information in relation to this matter or other legal matters please contact our office on Freecall 1800 609 945 or email us now.