Wednesday, 18 April 2007

High Court may lead to workers comp discrimination: HREOC

The Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission has noted that the High Court decision in Attorney-General (Vic) v Andrews (2007) HCA 9 upheld workers’ compensation laws allowing large companies to opt out of compulsory state schemes. This decision may have unintended consequences for workers in same-sex relationships according to Human Rights Commissioner Graeme Innes AM.

Under the Commonwealth workers’ compensation scheme, the same-sex partner of an injured or deceased employee is not entitled to workers’ compensation, whereas state workers’ compensation schemes do provide this protection.

“An opposite-sex partner of an employee covered by a federal workers’ compensation scheme has the security of knowing that he or she will be financially supported if his or her partner dies or is injured on the job. A same-sex partner has no such security,” Commissioner Innes said.

“The Comcare system should change to give people in same-sex relationships the same workers’ compensation coverage protecting opposite-sex couples.”

The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission is currently finalising the report of the National Inquiry into Discrimination Against People in Same-Sex Relationship regarding Financial and Work-related Entitlements (Same-Sex: Same Entitlements).

The Inquiry covers discrimination against same-sex couples and families in several areas of federal law including:

employment laws (personal and parental leave, workers’ compensation, travel entitlements for federal employees)
tax laws
social security and veterans’ entitlement laws
Medicare and PBS Safety Nets
superannuation laws, and
aged care laws.

Link to HREOC

Decision in Attorney-General (Vic) v. Andrews

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