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)
social security and veterans’ entitlement laws
Medicare and PBS Safety Nets
superannuation laws, and
aged care laws.