Comparing workers compensation arrangements in Australia and New Zealand

In July Safe Work Australia released the 2014 Comparison of Workers’ Compensation Arrangements in Australia and New Zealand (the Comparison). This detailed report provides information on the operation of workers compensation schemes in each of the jurisdictions in Australia and New Zealand and discusses the way each scheme deals with key aspects like coverage, benefits, return to work provisions, self-insurance, common law, dispute resolution and cross-border arrangements.

With permission we are sharing some of the data from the Comparison. You can view the full report here.

Key features of schemes


Workers compensation and self-insurance coverage


  1. The figures in this table aim to give the reader an indication of the number of self-insurers in each scheme. For exact details on self-insurance statistics, readers should contact the relevant jurisdictional authority.
  2. Includes number of employees covered by self and specialised insurer workers’ compensation arrangements. Includes government employees covered by the Treasury Managed Fund administered by the NSW Self Insurance Corporation.
  3. For Victoria this figure does not include the self-insured employee numbers. The figure provided is the total FTEs of all self-insurers for 2012-2013.
  4. Self-insurers represent 8.15% of the Victorian scheme by remuneration. Although there are a relatively small number of self-insured bodies corporate, they represent some of the largest companies in Victoria. The two biggest self-insurers, in terms of employee numbers, are Wesfarmer and Woolworths.
  5. Contractors working for the Commonwealth will be recorded against their State of usual residence and hence all employed persons are recorded as being covered by workers’ compensation, again in these figures there is an inherent potential degree of inaccuracy.
  6. For New Zealand this figure includes self-insurers and self-employed persons who are covered by the Scheme.


Schemes’ funding positions as at 30 June 2013 and 30 June 2012 1. Figures for 30 June 2012 include Residual claims.


1. Figures for 30 June 2012 include Residual claims.


Employers, other than self-insurers, are required to pay workers’ compensation premiums to cover their workers in the event of a work related injury or illness. The majority of employers in Australia and New Zealand are premium payers. Premiums fund financial and medical support to injured workers, cover the costs of dispute management and administration of the schemes.

In central and hybrid schemes, premium rates are set by a central authority based on actuarial forecasts of claim costs across all industry sectors. In privately underwritten schemes, independent insurers charge premiums based on a commercial underwriting basis.

Premium rates are generally pooled across similar risk profile groups. This allows employers who share a common set of risks to spread the risk across their industry type. Across the schemes there are hundreds of specified premium rates for industry types.
Employers that operate in more than one jurisdiction have to pay the relevant premium in each jurisdiction. Premiums are usually expressed as a percentage of employers’ total wages bills. The rates depend on an employer’s:

  • size
  • industry
  • individual claims experience, and
  • the way that ‘wages’ are defined for workers’ compensation purposes, which can vary across the jurisdictions.

In 2011-12 the Australian standardised average premium rate was 1.51 percent of payroll, which was higher than the previous year 2010-11 (1.49%).

The standardised premium rates are determined by applying factors that adjust the total average premium rate for employer excess and journey claims in each jurisdiction.

Standardised average premium rates 2007-08 to 2011-12 (% of payroll)


* ACT Private