If you’re an employer in Queensland and you employ workers, you must insure them against work-related injury or illness with an accident insurance policy.
To understand who you should cover for workers’ compensation – and so you can declare your wages accurately - you need to know exactly who is considered a worker.
So you can get things right for your business and cover the right people, the legislative definition is outlined in the sections below along with steps you can take to work out who is a worker and who is not.
If you have any questions about who is or isn’t considered a worker, call us on 1300 362 128 so we can help you.
All PAYG employees and some contractors are generally considered workers. But the legal definition can be complex and there are some exceptions to the rule.
Some people are not considered workers under the Act, for the purposes of workers’ compensation, and there are specific inclusions and exclusions.
As set out in the Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003, a worker is:
- only an individual, not a corporation, partnership or trust (sole traders may be considered workers)
- a ‘person who works under a contract and, in relation to the work, is an employee for the purpose of assessment for PAYG withholding
- someone who works under a ‘contract of service’, like a sub-contractor. This worker may do the same work as an employee and could also be a worker under the Act.
A 'contract of service' is the contract between employer and employee. This is how most employers employ their workers. It's not the same as a 'contract for services', which is generally an arrangement with a contractor.
There are simple tests you can apply to help you work out who is considered a worker and who isn’t. Learn more about them.
Whether a worker is an employee or a contractor can be figured out by looking at the working arrangement. There are six main points for each - as set out by common law – that you should consider.
- The worker can't pay someone else to do the work (subcontract).
- The worker is paid by the hour for the time they work, per piece of work or for a commission.
- The worker doesn’t provide their own tools or equipment for the job or, if they do, they are paid an allowance for this.
- The worker isn’t legally liable for the cost of fixing any faults. The employer is responsible.
- The employer has the right to tell the worker where and how to do their job.
- The worker works within and is considered part of the employer’s business.
- The contractor can pay someone else (subcontract) to do the work.
- The contractor is paid for a job done based on a verbal or written quote they provided.
- The contractor provides their own tools and equipment for the job and doesn’t get an allowance for this.
- The contractor is legally responsible for their work and for the cost of fixing any faults in the work.
- The contractor can do the work in the way they see fit, subject to the specific terms of any contract or agreement
- The contractor operates their own business independently from the employer and is free to accept or refuse additional work.
If you still have questions about employees and contractors you can use our employer guide (PDF, 1.1 MB) to take you through the steps to identify a worker versus a contractor or look at the steps on the Worker determination tests page.
You can also look at Mistakes to avoid relating to employees versus contractors on the ATO website.
Some contractors are still considered workers and need to be covered. Read the section below called ‘Do I need to cover contractors’ for more information or apply the ATO’s 6 key common law principles to work out specific contracting arrangements.
Even if a contractor has an Australian Business Number (ABN) or is responsible for their own tax, if they’re working under a 'contract of service', they’re still considered to be a worker.
If you hire a contractor to do work for you, you’ll need to work out whether you need to cover them. This will depend on the arrangement between you.
You can figure out if you need to cover a contractor by using tools like:
- the ATO’s ABN Lookup tool to work out which of your contractors are registered as an Individual or Sole Trader)
- the ATO’s 6 key common law principles to work out their status as a contractor or an employee
You can also work through the steps on our Worker determination tests page.
For each contractor identified as an employee, enter their ABN, name, and the total of all payments made to the worker (ex GST) into our Contractor Working Sheet (XLSX, 0.06 MB) This will help you work out the total amount of contractor payments you need to include in your wages declaration.
Make sure you save a copy of the ABN Lookup tool Excel file and the Contractor working sheet Excel file for your records. You may need to give a copy to WorkCover.
If you’re still having trouble figuring out if your contractor should be covered, call us on 1300 362 128 so we can help you.
If you employ workers interstate or overseas, you may or may not need to cover them for workers’ compensation in Queensland. You may need to cover them in another state, or it may not be your responsibility to cover them at all.
There are simple tests you can do to work out your responsibilities and whether or where to cover them. You can find all of this information on our Cover for interstate and overseas workers page.
Apprentices are classed as workers for the purposes of workers’ compensation. They are covered by your policy just like any other worker.
However, businesses that employ apprentices can benefit from an ‘apprentice discount’ on their accident insurance policy premium. This works by removing the cost of apprentice wages from your wage declaration, resulting in a lower premium. To be eligible you need to declare your wages by 31 August.
For more information on this and how it works and can benefit you, visit our Reducing your premium page and look at the section called ‘Apprentice discount’.
Since 1 July 2020, unpaid interns are considered ‘workers’ under the Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (the Act) and are entitled to compensation for work-related injuries.
Who is considered an unpaid intern?
An ‘intern’ is a person performing work without being paid so they can gain practical experience or obtain a qualification. They would be ‘a worker’ if they were being paid for the work they’re doing.
Who is not considered an unpaid intern?
The following will not be considered to be unpaid interns:
- paid interns (they will generally already be covered by the scheme as a worker).
- any person who is a:
- volunteer with a non-profit organisation or a religious, charitable or benevolent organisation
- a school student on work experience or
- vocational placement through a registered training organisation.
- a person providing unpaid assistance as a favour.
How will this affect my premium and what should I declare?
Every employer who engages unpaid interns will need to declare the number of unpaid interns in their workplace.
No premium will be charged to employers engaging unpaid interns, however, any claims costs will be taken into account as claims experience when calculating premium for the employer.
If you have further questions about the changes around unpaid interns, please call WorkCover on 1300 362 128.
It isn’t compulsory for organisations to cover volunteers for any work-related injury that might happen while volunteering.
Certain organisations can choose to take out a limited policy to cover volunteers if they wish.
You can find out whether your organisation is eligible by talking to WorkCover.
People who volunteer for a school's Parents & Citizens (P&C) or Parents & Friends (P&F) association aren't covered by the school's Accident Insurance policy. Alternative insurance cover will need to be arranged.
Students on work experience or vocational placement
Students on work experience or vocational placement can be covered by a Work Experience and Vocational Placement policy which covers death or permanent impairment only.
This type of policy is limited to private secondary schools and registered training organisations (RTOs) as the following schools are covered by policies held by Education Queensland, Catholic Education and Independent Schools Queensland:
- State secondary schools
- Catholic private secondary schools
- independent schools providing secondary education that are members of Independent Schools Queensland.
For more information on these types of policies, call WorkCover on 1300 362 128.