Skip links and keyboard navigation

Queensland Government site header

Worker definition changes

What is the definition of a worker?

The definition of a worker aligns with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) definition. This reduces red tape and makes it easier for employers to correctly identify workers when declaring wages for their premium. Also, workers clearly know if they are covered or not.

The new definition of worker is 'a person who works under a contract and, in relation to the work, is an employee for the purpose of assessment for PAYG withholding under the Taxation Administration Act 1953 (Cwlth), schedule 1, part 2-5'. This applies to a person for whom PAYG tax instalments are required or would be required to be withheld by their employer.

ATO guidelines and tools

ATO has guidelines on its website and an online tool for determining employee / contractor status. If an individual is not specifically included or excluded under Schedule Two of the Act, WorkCover will use the ATO guidelines and tool to determine who should be covered for workers' compensation. After using the tool, a copy of the determination can be kept as a record.

Understanding the definition of a worker

We want to ensure everyone understands the definition of a worker. Here are some helpful links:

The majority of workers will continue to be covered for workers' compensation.

For more information, contact your Relationship Manager, or call WorkCover on 1300 362 128.

Key changes and worker status introduced on 1 July 2013

Change relating to individual contractors Worker status
Owner bobcat, backhoe operators working on an hourly rateNot covered
Owner truck drivers working on an hourly rate or per kilometre rate or piece work (e.g. prime movers, taxi trucks, cement trucks, tow trucks)Not covered
Contracts with partnerships of individualsNot covered
Contractors working mainly / substantially for labour only, quote for the job, provide their tools of trade, rectifying defects at their own expense and subcontracts / employs labourNot covered
Person has a personal services business determination (PSBD) from ATONot covered
No change to the following building and construction individual contractor scenario 
Contractors providing their tools of trade, consumables, getting paid an hourly rate or piece work rates – e.g. specifically, plasterers providing their tools of trade, consumables like glue, nails, getting paid an hourly rate or piece work ratesCovered
Contractors providing all major materials, their tools of trade, providing an upfront total price for the job (quote for the job), rectifying defects - e.g. specifically carpenters providing timber, their tools of trade, providing upfront total price for the job, rectifying defects at their own expenseNot covered

These scenarios are not exhaustive – any change to the specific contracting arrangements may change the decision.

Last updated
14 June 2019

We'd love your feedback

WorkCover Queensland accident insurance policy renewal

Pay your premium in full or set up a payment plan quickly and easily online before the 30 September deadline.


Log in to pay your premium

Log in to online services. Pay your premium quickly and easily

Safe Work Month 2020

Register now for FREE virtual events this October.


Safe Work Month 2020