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Issue #1930      August 31, 2020

I(don’t)care

Workers rorted, the rich get richer

The 2020 review of the NSW workers compensation scheme interviewed the Icare board earlier this year.

What did it find out?

Out of its 1,200 employees, 200 of them were eligible for bonuses – amounting to just over sixteen per cent of the insurer’s workforce.

Additionally, eight of its executives were taking home almost $4 million last financial year, including bonuses well over $100,000. Most of the Board were on annual salaries between $500,000 to $800,000 a year.

These “performance payments” were made despite terribly deteriorating return to work figures for injured workers, and a decline in the funding ratio of the scheme.

It seems all of the senior leadership, as well as the general managers, were all on bonuses.

Furthermore, at least two employees in the NSW treasurer’s office were being paid for through Icare funds – money that comes from premiums collected from employers meant to be paid to injured workers. It seems that these employees in the treasurer’s office were seconded by Icare, however, the proper documentation was never provided.

While Icare is meant to be paying out worker’s compensation, it seems that it is more in the business of paying the huge, head-scratching bonuses to poorly performing senior executives and managers. Perhaps the bonuses were for cutting back benefits for the injured workers and saving employers’ and the scheme’s money?

It would be one thing if these bonuses were being paid out and workers were getting paid out fairly and on time. However, many injured workers have had difficulty getting their claims accepted, many have been underpaid for years, and coverage for reasonable costs of medical investigations and treatments is frequently denied.

At the same time, a senior employee/senior fraud officer was raising dozens of complaints about fraud, theft and corruption at Icare, complaints that were being dismissed by those same senior executives. Instead of the whistle-blower being commended for their actions, they suffered constant bullying and harassment until they were hounded out of Icare, ultimately being forced into signing a nondisclosure agreement.

If that wasn’t bad enough, former chief executive John Nagle awarded his wife a three year contract worth $800,000 to train Icare staff between 2016-19. How did the board resolve this conflict of interest when it found out? Instead of firing him, or asking for his resignation, they sanctioned him and denied him a short-term bonus. For Nagle, the loss of the bonus was enough for him to threaten to resign but board chair Michael Carapiet convinced him to stay!

The senior executives are very keen to place the blame of ballooning costs of the scheme at the feet of the “greedy specialist doctors,” but at the same time, see no issue at all with going on trips to Las Vegas paid for by companies that were awarded $200 million IT contracts by Icare.

Our worker’s compensation schemes are rorting workers; it’s time to nationalise the scheme.

Next article – Qantas must put people before profit

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