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JobKeeper payments and weekly compensation

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Eligibility for JobKeeper payments when a worker has an accepted statutory compensation claim with WorkCover Queensland

The information on this page has been updated in line with Commonwealth Government changes to the JobKeeper Payment Scheme effective 28 September 2020.

A worker's level of incapacity for work will be a decisive factor when determining whether they are eligible for a JobKeeper payment.

Totally incapacitated for work

The eligibility criteria published by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) clearly states that an employee is not eligible under the JobKeeper Payment Scheme if during the fortnight they were in receipt of a 'payment in accordance with Australian worker compensation law for an individual's total incapacity for work'.

This means that if a worker is totally incapacitated for work at any time during fortnight and in receipt of weekly compensation from WorkCover, they are not an eligible employee for the purpose of the JobKeeper Payment Scheme. There is no requirement for the employer to pay the JobKeeper payment to the employee..

Partially incapacitated for work

The eligibility criteria published by the ATO does not include workers who are partially incapacitated for work. Accordingly, a worker in these circumstances may still be an eligible employee for a JobKeeper payment if the relevant criteria is met.

The employer will need to pay the JobKeeper payment to the employee to then be able to apply for the JobKeeper payment amount from the government.

Medical expenses only

The eligibility criteria published by the ATO does not include workers who are fully fit to work (with no restrictions) and are in receipt of medical and treatment expenses coverage only.

Accordingly, a worker in these circumstances may still be an eligible employee for a JobKeeper payment if the relevant criteria is met.

The employer will need to pay the JobKeeper payment to the employee to then be able to apply for the JobKeeper payment from the government.

JobKeeper payments and how these affect the calculation of weekly compensation

Striking a rate of weekly compensation (NWE and the industrial instrument rate) – are payments made under the JobKeeper Payment Scheme included?

Under the Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (WCRA) the rate of weekly compensation is calculated based on either the worker's normal weekly earnings (NWE) or the amount payable under the industrial instrument governing their employment agreement. The WCRA and the Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation Regulation 2014 clearly set out the definition of NWE and what must be taken into account when calculating NWE.

WorkCover does not consider amounts paid to employees only so that an employer can access the JobKeeper Payment Scheme to constitute ‘earnings’ for the purposes of calculating NWE. This is because those amounts paid to employees are not money earned for labour or services or personal exertion. It is a payment that allows the employer to access payments under the JobKeeper Payment Scheme according to criteria applied by the ATO. Therefore, WorkCover will not take these amounts into account when calculating the NWE.

Further, WorkCover does not consider these amounts should be taken into account when determining a worker's industrial instrument rate essentially for the same reason as above.

WorkCover is ensuring all Queensland workers are treated fairly and equally by not considering these amounts when striking a rate of weekly compensation. The rate of weekly compensation will be calculated in the normal method required under the WCRA, regardless of whether the worker is in receipt of an amount that simply allows the employer to access payments under the JobKeeper Payment Scheme or not.

Example of weekly compensation entitlement amount for a totally incapacitated worker

  • A worker's pre-injury working hours are 38 hours.
  • A worker's weekly wage under the relevant industrial instrument is $500 per week.
  • Their NWE is $550 per week (not taking into account payments made as a result of the JobKeeper Payment Scheme).
  • Because the worker's employment is governed by an industrial instrument and they are totally incapacitated, section 150 of the WCRA applies to calculate the weekly rate of compensation payable for the first 26 weeks of incapacity. Section 150 states that whichever is greater out of the following two options will be the amount of weekly compensation payable:
    • 85% of the NWE; or
    • the amount payable under the industrial instrument.
  • The correct weekly compensation rate payable to the worker is $500 per week (i.e. the higher of the industrial instrument rate or 85% of their NWE, $467.50).
  • Even if the employer was paying the worker $600 per week so that the employer could access payments under the JobKeeper Payment Scheme immediately prior to the date of the incident, WorkCover will still adopt a weekly compensation rate of $500 per week.

Example of weekly compensation entitlement amount for a partially incapacitated worker

  • Same scenario details as above.
  • The worker has clearance to return to work performing partial hours (20 hours per week).
  • The employer is responsible for paying the worker a wage for the 20 hours worked ($263 per week) and WorkCover would normally top up the 18 hours the worker does not have clearance to work ($239 per week).
  • However, if the employer pays the worker $600 per week so that it can access payments under the JobKeeper Payment Scheme (as the worker is not totally incapacitated for work and therefore not excluded as a potential eligible employee), WorkCover would not pay the $239 per week top up amount due to the operation of section148 of the WCRA.
  • Section 148 of the WCRA enables WorkCover to have regard to any other payment or benefit that the worker may be receiving outside of their statutory compensation claim and may reduce their weekly compensation payment by the equivalent weekly amount.  A top up amount paid by an employer to a worker so that the employer can access payments under the JobKeeper Payment Scheme is a type of payment or benefit that would fall within this section.

Practical implications of not considering JobKeeper payments when calculating weekly compensation entitlements

  • If a worker is totally incapacitated for work and is in receipt of weekly compensation benefits from WorkCover, it is the employer's obligation to ensure the employer does not claim a payment under the JobKeeper Payment Scheme for that particular worker for the relevant period of incapacity.
  • During initial claim discussions with the employer, the WorkCover representative will need to obtain the following specific information (in addition to other details usually obtained once a claim for determination is lodged):
    • Whether the employer has been in receipt of the JobKeeper payment for that particular worker;
    • If the employer has been in receipt of the JobKeeper payment for that particular worker, when did the payment commence;
    • 12 months of wage history which includes a clear breakdown of wages paid to the worker, plus additional amounts paid to the worker because the worker's wages were otherwise less than the JobKeeper 'wage condition' per fortnight (and the exact amount of that additional payment);
    • Confirmation that the employer is aware that the worker is not an eligible employee for the JobKeeper Payment Scheme if the worker's claim is accepted and they are totally incapacitated for work;
    • Confirmation that the employer is aware that a worker cannot 'double dip' (by receiving both a weekly compensation payment from WorkCover and a top up amount attributable to the JobKeeper Payment Scheme above their normal wage), particularly when the worker is partially incapacitated for work and can still be an eligible employee for assessing whether the employer is entitled to a JobKeeper payment.
    • The reason this may occur is because the rules relating to JobKeeper payments do not address workers who have an accepted workers’ compensation claim and are partially incapacitated for work. This ultimately means that the worker remains an eligible employee for whom the employer can receive a JobKeeper payment. The employer is required to pay the eligible employee the JobKeeper payment per fortnight in order to receive the JobKeeper payment from the government. Section 148 of the WCRA can be utilised to avoid 'double dipping'.
  • During initial claim discussions with the worker, the WorkCover representative will need to obtain the following specific information (in addition to other details usually obtained once a claim for determination is lodged):
    • Whether the worker is aware if they have received amounts from their employer as a result of the JobKeeper Payment Scheme (the worker would have had to complete an employee nomination form for the purpose of allowing the employer to claim payments under the JobKeeper Payment Scheme(;
    • If the worker has been in receipt of amounts as a result of the JobKeeper Payment Scheme, when did the payment commence;
    • Confirmation that the worker is aware that they cannot 'double dip', particularly when they are partially incapacitated for work and still considered an eligible employee for the purpose of the JobKeeper Payment Scheme.

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