Contractors and Workers Compensation Claims

Workers compensation is a complicated area, particularly if you are working as a contractor. A lot of people assume that if you aren’t employed on a casual, part-time or full-time basis, there’s no use in making a workers injury claim. This may not necessarily be the case and doesn’t mean you (as a contractor) aren’t a “worker” within the meaning of the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (WCRA)

Signed an agreement acknowledging you’re a contractor?

Employers will often ask their workers to sign an agreement acknowledging they are a contractor and not an employee. This is so the employer can avoid the obligation to insure the worker against personal injury under the WCRA.

These agreements usually state that you (as the worker) are;

  • Responsible for your own income tax
  • Not eligible for compulsory employer superannuation payments
  • Responsible for taking out your own private insurance for personal injury

While these clauses are all consistent with a person being a contractor, it doesn’t mean you aren’t a “worker” within the meaning of WCRA and could be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.

In what cases can a contractor be technically a “worker”?

The following four examples should give you an idea.

  1. A contractor can be a “worker” under the WCRA regardless of their tax paying status. The contractor could be working under an ABN and invoices the employer for work performed at an hourly rate and still could be considered a “worker.”
  2. A “worker” can include a contractor who works under a contract of service for a single employer. If the employer is setting the contractor’s hours and giving direction to the hours of work that should be performed, the contractor could be a “worker” for the purposes of the WCRA.
  3. Contractors who are employed for labour only or mainly labour may also be “workers.” This is where the employer provides most of the tools, equipment and materials as well.
  4. If the employer is responsible for the cost of rectifying any defects in your work, this could deem you as a “worker” too.

Do any of these examples sound like your work agreement?

Whether you have similar characteristics in your employment to the examples mentioned above, each case still needs to be considered on its own facts. The important thing to remember is while a person may appear to be a contractor based on their working agreement; they can still be considered a “worker” within the meaning under the WCRA. This means they are entitled to workers’ compensation if they’re injured at work.

If you have a work related injury and need assistance, contact GC Law straight away on 1300 302 318 or complete our free claim review.

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