Worker insurance boss quits $1m post at troubled agency

The boss of a key pillar in the NSW workers compensation regime has quit his highly paid post during an attempt to turn around the trouble-plagued agency.

Insurance and Care NSW (icare) chief executive and managing director Richard Harding will leave his $1 million-per-year role in October after joining during a "period of crisis" when the agency was under intense scrutiny in 2021.

That stemmed from media investigations about workers being underpaid while executives scored huge bonuses.

But Mr Harding steadied the ship, the agency said in a statement that announced his resignation on Wednesday. 

"He has since implemented significant reform through transformation programs that have led to improved outcomes and set the organisation on the path to long term sustainability," it said.

Mr Harding said he was proud of the agency's recent achievements.

"Everyone at icare has consistently focused on delivering better outcomes for the people we serve," he said.

The announcement comes a week after outgoing NSW auditor-general Margaret Crawford identified that major reforms at icare were yet to demonstrate their effectiveness.

Workers taking longer to return to work after sustaining a psychological injury were threatening the financial sustainability of the Treasury-managed fund that covered public-sector staff, while private employers faced insurance premium increases of eight per cent a year in the coming years, Ms Crawford warned.

She also criticised the agency for not conducting a detailed analysis to identify the source of its declining performance before spending billions implementing a new model.

But the agency's chair, John Robertson, said that system - which involved outsourcing the handling of claims to competing providers - removed risk and created an environment that would lead to better outcomes for injured workers and employers.

He also credited the outgoing boss with significantly improving the workplace culture at the agency.

Mr Harding became one of the highest-paid public servants in the state after receiving a pay bump that took his annual salary past $1 million in 2022, when the controversial executive bonuses were scrapped.

The agency is now recruiting his replacement.

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