The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS) has sought an urgent injunction from the Employment Relations Authority to prevent the ACC from proceeding with its proposal to ‘disestablish’ over 100 jobs.
The proposal would see over 100 employees have their jobs ‘disestablished’ and be obligated to go through a process of re-application – a move which ASMS says will cause unnecessary stress and upset, since the total number of redundancies is unlikely to be higher than 12.
The ACC has recently announced a new automated claims approval system, and, according to ASMS, the redundancies are likely linked to the ACC implementing the new technology.
“Disestablishment is shorthand for dismissal, and you can only dismiss people on certain grounds,” ASMS senior industrial officer Lloyd Woods told Insurance Business. “The ACC has a history of disestablishing jobs in a specific area and making employees re-apply, with some potentially not securing the employment. But to disestablish a job which is clearly not redundant cannot be lawful, especially when it puts employees through a process which is stressful, damaging and highly upsetting.”
“The ACC has been establishing a new way of working over the last 18 months, and a new automated approval system is going to be handling a very large proportion of their claims,” Woods explained. “But the role of the adviser has certainly not disappeared, and it’s far too early to say if it ever will. These advisers are the experts in this field, and we have real concerns for ACC claimants if they are taken out of the picture.”
The ACC’S new claims approval system, announced last week, will use a statistical model to determine the probability that a claim will be accepted. This is the latest development in an ongoing lean towards claims automation systems from across the insurance sector, with companies such as Cove Insurance offering a fully automated service from policy purchase to claim approval.
According to Woods, the ACC has disestablished at least 991 positions since 2013, resulting in 268 redundancies. Many of these jobs, he believes, have been disestablished without any real cause, and the latest proposal outlines plans to disestablish approximately 60 medical advisers, the vast majority of which would ultimately keep their jobs.
“The idea that disestablishing all roles establishes a level playing field simply isn’t true,” said Woods. “It establishes a level minefield where everybody is at risk. ACC has a habit of taking a cavalier attitude to people’s jobs, making a nonsense of their mantra about putting people ahead of processes. The callous disregard they’re showing in this situation for people who are anxious about the future of their employment is just staggering.”