Employer groups are angry and concerned about new Weatherill Government legislation relating to privacy and confidentiality of health information.
Business groups such as Business SA, Self Insurers of South Australia, the Australian Industry Group, the Motor Traders’ Association and the Master Builders Association have all contacted the State Liberals expressing anger and concern about the Statutes Amendment (Health Information) Bill, introduced into Parliament this month.
Shadow Health Minister Rob Lucas said employers believe the bill will increase business costs as well as reduce the chances of earlier return to work for injured workers.
“Given Minister Rau’s recent attacks on poor return-to-work rates for injured workers in South Australia, it seems the height of hypocrisy for the Weatherill Government to be introducing legislation which will further reduce return-to-work rates,” said Mr Lucas.
Employer concerns about the bill include that it:
• restricts an employer’s ability to require a pre-employment medical examination;
• restricts an employer’s right to order random drug and alcohol testing; and,
• restricts an employer’s right to direct workers to a particular doctor who has knowledge of the business and the work site to assist workers return to work
“Employers give the example of a worker who is required to lift for work who suffers back pain and his doctor writes a certificate of ‘unfit for duties’,” said Mr Lucas.
“However employers argue there are many examples where a doctor familiar with the business and the work site can provide a certificate saying the worker cannot lift but is able to undertake other duties such as administrative work, tidying, cleaning or training.
“Employer groups are also furious that the Weatherill Government did not consult them at all prior to the introduction of the bill.
“Mr Weatherill must now explain publicly why employers were not consulted, and whether WorkCover management were consulted on what impact there might be on return-to-work rates and the unfunded liability.”