Look out driving to work, it is no longer covered by workers’ compensation.

Everyone is affected by the NSW Government’s changes that remove compensation for injuries that happen on the way to or from work from workers’ compensation coverage. With the support of the Shooters and the Nile Group in the Upper House, the Government has removed the historic protection available for injuries that only happen because you're on your way to or from work. Historically known as "journey claims", this is part of the Government’s attack on workers’ compensation.

While there have been other entitlements slashed and burned, this is the cutback that can affect everyone, every day.

An amendment in the Upper House has provided that accidents which are "incidental" to your work in travelling to or from work may be covered. No one really knows what this means - it draws on the South Australian legislation and the only example given to help understand its implications is a nurse travelling to work and doing a bit of nursing on the way.

Here is a link to a summary of the changes prepared by our solicitors NEW Law and as soon as it is clear what is "incidental", we'll let you know. You should presume the worst.

All we can be clear about at the moment is that if you start work in the field, you are not covered under workers’ compensation as you travel from home to the site but, because you have already started work, the remainder of your journey to your normal workplace is covered.

It's hard to see any logic other than cutting costs in removing journey claims when these claims cover accidents that only occur because someone is travelling to or from work.

 

The Division of Local Government is currently reviewing the Model Code of Conduct and back in July last year we made a submission. Now, having seen the proposed new Draft which has been circulated in the industry (but typically, the DLG didn't think it appropriate to send it to us) we think there's really only one problem.

But it's a big one.

The Division has proposed a new 6.4 (e) to require that employees must "ensure that any participation in political activities does not conflict with their primary duty to serve the Council in a politically neutral manner."

What? There is no "primary duty" for employees in the current Local Government Act requiring political neutrality (whatever that is), there is no definition of what "participation in political activities" means and the Division is unable to give any examples of the sort of behaviour that they think needs to be regulated with a provision like this.

It looks like everyone pretty much missed this provision but we didn't. Significantly, this proposal has been drafted by employees of the Crown and there is no comparable obligation imposed on them.  What were they thinking? And, more importantly, what were they thinking at the same time that the Independent Review Panel is charged with the responsibility of making recommendations to create a more mature relationship between the State and local government?

It would also be potentially challengeable as a breach of an employee's human rights and any number of ILO conventions. This is what we said in our letter.

 

The Local Government and Shires Association, the United Services Union, the Local Government Engineers Association and depa have all agreed that any drug testing in local government should be done by saliva testing and not urine testing. This fundamental agreement underpins the finalisation of the industry's Alcohol and Other Drugs Policy and Procedure in the Industrial Relations Commission yesterday.

The Agreement recognises that saliva testing is both more effective in detecting impairment at the time of the test, more reliable in not producing false positives from legitimate medication and less intrusive into the privacy of employees because it detects impairment at the time of the test and not something that someone might have done two weeks ago.

For more than two years the employer organisations and unions have argued about, developed, trialled, argued again and finally resolved an agreed approach across the industry for those councils interested in introducing alcohol and other drugs policies. It has been at times acrimonious, threatening and uncooperative but it is now over and a good policy base has been created. And our role holding out against agreement between the employers and the USU supporting random testing and some other uncomfortable things has meant the development of a better policy.

Even the USU recognises this, with their representative in this process Steven Hughes, Manager of the Northern Division acknowledging "and in finalising this, the constructive amendments made by Robbo and Martin that allowed consensus to be reached." High praise indeed.

LGS has been committed to responsible and sustainable investment now for more than a decade. That commitment has seen LGS rated as Sustainable Super Fund of the Year, the top-rated fund in preparedness for investment in a low carbon future by the Climate Institute for successive years, winner of the Best Green Super Fund from Money Magazine and the winner of SuperRatings Infinity Award both in 2011 in 2012.

That commitment has driven improvements in the sustainability of the directly held property portfolio.

LGS owns 120 Sussex Street in Sydney - a 21-year-old office building which is the first CBD building in Australia to receive a 5½ star NABERS Energy rating. The upgrade of the building carried out by LGS reduced energy consumption by 54%, making it the lowest energy-intensive CBD building in Australia, as well as reducing water consumption by 46%.

This was done using leading Australian lighting, air conditioning and chiller technology, and the full upgrade was completed at a final cost of only $160 per square metre. These are the factors that drove the Property Council of Australia to provide this prestigious award to LGS. Anyone can build sustainable new buildings, the challenge is what to do with existing building stock.

Lower running costs, fully tenanted and more satisfied tenants means long-term sustainable returns for LGS members and the planet.

Copyright © 2017 The Development and Environmental Professionals' Association (depa). All Rights Reserved. Webdesign: Dot Online