Penalties for non-compliance
WorkSafe ACT may recover up to twice the amount of any avoided premium from an employer who fails to maintain a current workers compensation policy.
The Magistrates Court (Workers Compensation Infringement Notices) Regulation 2006 makes provision for infringement notices under the Magistrates Court Act 1930 relating to certain offences under theWorkers Compensation Act 1951 (the Act). The infringement notice system is intended to provide an alternative to prosecution.
Infringement notices are issued for non-compliance under certain sections of the Act and are served by Inspectors. An infringement notice can be served on a person or a corporation; however, the penalty for an offence against a corporation is five times the penalty amount for an individual.
Employers failing to hold a workers' compensation policy may be issued an Infringement Notice ($5,500). A Default notice will be issued where employer then has ten days to obtain a policy. If after ten days a policy is not obtained a 2nd default notice will be issued with an Infringement Notice. If after a further ten days (a total of 20 days), a policy has not been obtained, a cease business order will be issued, with five days given to cease operation. If the employer continues to trade without a policy, criminal prosecution will follow.
The below provisions also apply to the payment of the default penalty:
- Pay the penalty.
- Request for an extension of time to pay the penalty.
- Apply for a withdrawal of the infringement notice.
- Dispute liability;
- Request for an extension of time to dispute liability
A Notice of Decision will be given to the employer who then has 28 days to seek an extension of time, withdrawal, dispute liability or request an extension of time to pay. If the employer does not make any such request within the 28 day period an invoice will be sent for payment.
If a penalty relating to an infringement notice is not paid and no request for an extension, withdrawal or application to dispute liability is received within 28 days, a reminder notice may be issued. A reminder notice incurs an additional cost of $34 on top on the original infringement notice amount to cover the cost of serving the notice.
Pay the penalty
Payments are made by either mail or in person and if the penalty is paid by the due date no further action will be taken and no conviction will be recorded. Please note that receiving an infringement notice or reminder notice does not preclude an employer from being prosecuted for other breaches under the provision of the Act, or breaches of other provisions of the Act.
Request for an extension of time to pay the penalty
If a person or corporation wishes to apply for an extension of time to pay the penalty, they must write to WorkSafe ACT within 28 days from the date of service of the infringement notice. WorkSafe ACT will then write to them about whether the request has been accepted or rejected. If the request is accepted they will be notified and advised of a new period in which the notice is to be paid. If the request is rejected, they will be notified of the outcome and the reasons for that decision. If a request is rejected then the penalty must be paid within seven days after the day they are told of the rejection, or 28 days after the date of service of the infringement notice, whichever is the later.
Apply for a withdrawal of the infringement notice
A person or corporation can apply for a withdrawal of an infringement notice. To do so, they must apply in writing to WorkSafe ACT, within 28 days from the date of service. The application must set out the grounds on which they believe a withdrawal is warranted. WorkSafe ACT will then write to them about the outcome of the request, and if the request is refused, the reasons for that decision. If the request is refused the penalty must be paid within seven days after the day they are told of the refusal, or 28 days after the date of service, whichever is the later date.
A person or corporation can also dispute liability for an infringement notice or reminder notice within 28 days of receiving the notice or within the period where an extension of time to dispute liability has been approved. This application must be in writing, addressed to WorkSafe ACT and set out the reasons for disputing liability.
If a person or corporation disputes liability, Worksafe ACT may refer the matter to the ACT Magistrates Court for hearing. If the matter goes to Court and the Court finds against the person or corporation, the result could be a conviction for the offence and may be subject to penalties, costs and court orders.
Consequences of non-payment
As previously mentioned, if no action is taken against an infringement notice in the required time, a reminder notice may be issued incurring the additional cost of $34. If, within 28 days of the issue of a reminder notice, the penalty has not been paid and the employer has not taken any action, the employer may be prosecuted in Court for the offence, and if the Court finds against the person on whom the notice was serviced, the result could be a conviction for the offence in addition to penalties and costs imposed by the Court.
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