INFORMATION BULLETIN – Apprentice Jockeys and WorkCover / Victoria / 02 Jun, 2016

The Australian Trainers’ Association (ATA) has long expressed the view that the manner in which WorkCover operates to penalise trainers where an apprentice is seriously injured whilst riding outside of an official race event, is simply unfair.

To restate the problem, as the Victorian legislation stands at this time, Racing Victoria (RV) insures apprentices under their WorkCover arrangements when engaged to ride in official races only. RV is presently negotiating with WorkCover to have the legislation also determine that the term “race” includes official trials. Beyond this activity, the apprentice remains the responsibility of the master with whom he or she is indentured.

This division of responsibility has given rise to several problems and anomalies. In particular:

Ø Apprentices frequently ride for other trainers and beyond the RV sanctioned events e.g.: track work, jump-outs, beach work, etc.; to gain experience. Trainers absolutely support this as a vital part of the apprentice’s training and transition to full jockey status. However, should a significant injury befall the apprentice whilst riding “on loan”, responsibility for any subsequent compensation claim reverts back to the master!

Ø When injured and unable to ride, the apprentice is entitled to lodge a claim under WorkCover to access ongoing income based on his or her pre-injury average weekly earnings (PIAWE). In recent times, we have seen a number of claims succeed where the PIAWE is calculated against total earnings. For example, earnings from activities performed not simply for the master, but all earnings combined including race riding fees and prizemoney, track fees earned whilst “on loan” to others, and so on. This might be considered fair and reasonable for the apprentice, however the knock-on effect is that all WorkCover premiums are claims driven – meaning premiums can and will increase year on year as a result of losses paid. Worse still, insurance premiums are also calculated against the employer’s loss history over a three year period, not simply the year of the accident!

So, not only is the master responsible for claims that occur to apprentices beyond his/her own stable activity (official race activity excepted), but we have these losses impacting and generally operating to inflate the master’s WorkCover premiums over multiple years!

So what is the ATA doing about this?

Firstly, we are writing to and will be meeting shortly with Government Department representatives for both WorkCover and Training & Employment, to represent our concerns.

Secondly, we have solicited support from the Victorian Jockey’s Association, who acknowledge the problem our trainers face, and have agreed it is time for a better arrangement to be found so their members do not become disadvantaged or an unwitting casualty of this debate. They have been, and will continue to, represent this view to RV.

Lastly, we have indicated to RV in the strongest possible terms that it is time Victoria falls into line with the other states in Australia, by removing the burden from the shoulders of Trainers of this unfair WorkCover responsibility.

2016 is the year we must make the change for the betterment of all participants! As our discussions unfold with the parties, we will provide further updates to members.

Should you wish to provide your feedback in writing in relation to this matter, please do so by CLICKING HERE

Alternatively, contact the office on (03) 9372-1688 should any one wish to discuss this matter with myself.

Kind Regards

Chief Executive