This article refers to Austrailia’s Workers Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 where it was legislated about which workers need to be covered by compensation insurance. While the laws in the US are passed down at the state level and can vary from state to state, the primary applicaiton referred to in this article applies.
However, for more detail about how workers compensation insurance applies to your state, please refer to your state’s Workers Compensation Board.
It is generally known by employers that they must have appropriate levels of Workcover insurance for all of their ‘workers’. However, what is not so well understood is the definition of what constitutes a ‘worker’ for Workcover purposes.
This definition does not appear so clear particularly when it comes to businesses that are employing contractors. For most business dealings and arrangements the hiring of contractors is generally considered as a different employment arrangement than that of standard employee – employer agreements.
In recent times contracting and the employment of contractors, as opposed to employees, has become a lot more common practice across a range of industries of the business community. As a result of the current economic climate businesses are employing more and more contractors as it can prove to be a more cost effective exercise.
Where employers can find themselves in trouble is when it comes to gaining Workcover insurance for all of their ‘workers’. Under Section 11 (1) of the Workers Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 a ‘worker’ is defined as ‘…a person who works under a contract of service.’
Whilst the Act does go on to specify who is and is not considered to be a ‘worker’ in particular circumstances it can generally be said that contractors who are providing a service to their employer are considered to be ‘workers’ for Workcover purposes.
Furthermore, Section 48 (1) of the Act outlines every ‘worker’ must be insured.
Every employer must, for each worker employed by the employer, insure and remain insured, that is, be covered to the extent of accident insurance, against injury sustained by the worker for-
(a) the employer’s legal liability for compensation; and
(b) the employer’s legal liability for damages.
As a result, it is important that if your business employs contractors or if you are employed as a contractor yourself, then you should seek advice as to whether you have the necessary Workcover for your situation.
In the unfortunate circumstance that an employee or contractor is injured and the employer does not have the correct level of Workcover insurance this can cause a lot of unnecessary financial and administrative burden for both parties.
Each employment situation is different and the requirements for Workcover insurance of ‘workers’ may be different for various businesses and business arrangements.
If you are unsure as to what your Workcover insurance obligations are the lawyers at The Quinn Group can certainly advise you on what is legally required for you to have appropriate insurance for your ‘workers’. We can also assist you if your business has insufficient insurance and has found to be liable for an accident that involved one of your workers. For more information contact The Quinn Group on 1300 QUINNS or click here to submit an online enquiry.
Effective July 26, 2009, the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries may issue a stop work order for any contractor without workers compensation (industrial insurance) coverage.
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