If you’re a casual, contractor, seasonal or commission-based worker, you may be wondering whether you are covered under workers compensation laws.
Generally, most ‘workers’ are entitled to claim workers compensation if they have been injured at work or acquired an illness because of their employment.
It is your responsibility to claim compensation and failure to lodge a claim, no matter how small, may have a significant impact on the amount of compensation received.
Can casual, contract, seasonal and commission-based workers claim workers compensation?
Casual employees who are injured or are suffering with an illness caused by their work are covered for workers compensation benefits.
Contractors are generally considered to be ‘workers’ if they are engaged to perform work on behalf of a business, and therefore need to be covered by a workers compensation policy by the principal employer.
If you are not sure whether you are a contractor ‘engaged to perform work on behalf of a business’, we recommend that you seek legal advice from an experienced lawyer who will be able to help determine whether you are eligible to claim workers compensation.
Seasonal and commission-based workers can claim workers compensation if they are specifically included under legislation.
Examples of included persons:
- sharefarmers who do not provide or use powered machinery and are entitled to a third or less of the share of farming gross proceeds (this needs to be included under written agreement with the farm owner)
- individuals hired by labour hire agencies or group training organisations to complete work for other employers, with a contract of service in place
- salespeople paid wholly or partly by commission, as long as the commission is not connected with any work done for their own business
- people working outside their trade or business may also be considered a worker.
If you are not an included person, as discussed above, you can complete the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) online decision tool that is designed to help you determine whether you are covered under workers’ compensation insurance. This tool can be found on the ATO’s website. If the ATO’s tool determines you to be an employee or a contractor, WorkCover will accept this decision for workers compensation claims purposes. You should keep a copy of this decision.
We recommend you seek legal advice from an experienced lawyer if you are still unsure as to whether you are entitled to claim workers compensation.
I am eligible to claim workers compensation for my workplace injury/illness, what should I do next?
If you have sustained a workplace injury or illness, you should notify your employer as soon as you can and make sure they record the incident in their register of injuries.
Your entitlement to compensation begins on the first day you are assessed by a doctor.
The next step is to complete a claim form. The easiest way to do this is online through the WorkCover website.
Once you have lodged a workers’ compensation claim and your employer’s insurer accepts liability, the insurer must start making payments for weekly benefits and medical expenses as soon as possible. These payments are important, especially if you are not able to work as a result of your injuries.
If you believe your injury is insignificant and not worth claiming, seek legal advice as to your entitlements regardless, as some injuries worsen over time leaving the injured person with significant loss. We recommend you speak with one of our experienced personal injury lawyers as soon as possible to prevent this from happening to you.
Are there time limits to start a claim? (When can these be extended?)
You should lodge your claim for compensation within six months after you sustained your injury. However, it is best that you lodge your claim no more than 20 business days after being medically assessed as your entitlements may be affected.
The six-month time limit may be waived if WorkCover is satisfied that a delay in lodging a claim was due to mistake, or you had a reasonable cause.
If you believe you may be out of time for lodging a claim, please speak to one of our experienced lawyers.
What type of entitlements can I claim for my injury/illness?
The type of entitlements you can claim will largely depend on the extent and severity of your injuries.
Compensation from your employer’s insurer may include the following:
- weekly payments during incapacity to work
- expenses for medical treatment by medical professionals, supplies and equipment
- reasonable travel expenses for receiving treatment, medical examinations and attending medical assessment tribunals
- lump sum benefits
- return to work support for an injured worker who cannot continue with their current role but may be suitable for alternative employment
Making a claim for workers compensation is not necessarily an easy process. There are stringent time restrictions and conditions you have to comply with when commencing a claim, not to mention dealing with insurers who have plenty of experience in defending compensation claims.
This is why we strongly recommend seeking legal advice for anyone wishing to make a workers compensation claim.
If you or someone you know wants more information or needs help or advice, please contact us on (02) 9708 2222 or email [email protected].