Evaluating the success of legislative amendments designed to reduce work disability

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Abstract

Substantial international variation exists in work disability compensation and rehabilitation policy, with little consensus on the most effective policy models for these systems. Legislation that governs them is frequently amended in an attempt to develop more effective and efficient systems, save costs, or improve outcomes for injured workers. A legislative amendment to the workers’ compensation system in 2010 in Tasmania, Australia, increased benefit generosity (by delaying wage replacement step-downs) and introduced a new injury management model to streamline treatment access and encourage earlier return to work. We sought to determine whether the amendments achieved their objective of reducing work disability duration. All analyses used interrupted time series to examine work disability duration in Tasmania compared with the Rest of Australia (ROA), where similar policies were not implemented, using a national workers’ compensation dataset. Data from time loss claims were included for two years before-and-after the legislative amendment introduced July 1 2010. Work disability duration initially declined in Tasmania (−0.45 weeks) compared to ROA; however, this was followed by an increasing trend of 0.11 weeks per quarter in the 2-year period following legislative amendment. Secondary analysis showed that disability duration did not significantly change for injured workers with short (<13 weeks) or long duration (>13 weeks) claims, nor did delaying the step-down in wage replacement payments from 13 to 26 weeks significantly affect the proportion of claims exceeding 13 weeks duration. In summary, we found no evidence that Tasmania’s amendments achieved the intended effect of reducing disability duration of injured workers.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPolicy Design and Practice
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 May 2019

Keywords

  • workers' compensation
  • policy
  • interrupted time series
  • legislation
  • work disability

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