'No-one pushed off entitlements' - ACC chief

KATE CHAPMAN
Last updated 08:20 22/06/2012

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ACC's departing chief says no one is being pushed off their entitlement - unless they are ready to return to work.

Documents released yesterday show "exit targets" formed part of the performance review for ACC managers and staff and contributed to whether they would receive a bonus or not.

For those working with long-term claimants, about 15 per cent of their performance measure was based on net entries to the long-term claim pool.

The remaining 85 per cent was based on other targets such as meeting organisational values, customer service and case-management quality.

Departing ACC chief executive Ralph Stewart said this morning that ACC remained focused on rehabilitation and no one was being pushed off their entitlement unless they were ready to return to work.

"I believe the process of insurance, providing for people when they have accidents, is a noble purpose in fact, ACC is paramount to that in New Zealand," he told Radio New Zealand.

Stewart resigned following concerns about the culture of ACC.

He refused to comment on that this morning, saying his reasons for leaving were multiple and a private matter.

Trust and confidence were important factors in how people viewed ACC and the past few weeks had been tough, he said.

"I think that could improve over time, yes."

Incentives for moving claimants into work had been in place for about three years and were only part of the performance assessment, Stewart said.

In the 2009/10 financial year, staff in the Recovery Independent Service, which deals with long-term claims, were expected to end payments to 69 per cent of claimants within 70 "weekly compensation days" and 91.3 per cent within 273 weekly compensation days.

There was also a goal of achieving a net change in the long-term pool and keeping the social rehabilitation spend within budget.

Case managers were also given individual exit targets.

ACC Minister Judith Collins also defended the incentives.

"They told me that it doesn't necessarily lead to a bonus or a drop in pay."

And it was a good thing to encourage people into work, she said.

"I don't see a problem with that, but where I do see a problem is if anyone is being forced off ACC when they're simply not able to work and I think that's a different thing altogether."

Green Party MP Kevin Hague said the documents showed most ACC staffers who deal with claims were set targets for ending payments and getting people into work.

ACC's claims process was "disastrous" and the Auditor-General's investigation into it should be brought forward, he said.

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"It is completely unacceptable that one of the performance mechanisms for ACC staff receiving pay is how many claimants are cut off from receiving their entitlements."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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