Workers Compensation - are you covering all your "workers"?

It is mandatory for all employers to have workers compensation cover for all their workers.  The definition of a "worker" under section 5 of the Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Act 1981 (“Act”) is not only restricted to the traditional employee, but also includes “any person engaged by another person to work for the purpose of the other person’s trade or business under a contract with him for service, the remuneration by whatever means of the person so working being in substance for his personal manual labour or service”.  

An independent contractor engaged under a contract for services may therefore be classed as a “worker” under the Act and may need to be covered by your workers’ compensation cover. However, there are a number of factors that should be taken into account, and this includes factors such as the nature of the work, the control by the employer and defined hours worked, if any. A link to the WorkCover WA guide can be found here.  

Your obligations as an employer under the Act are to provide cover for all your workers.  A failure to do so may result not only in a fine of up to $5000 per worker and an order to pay the backdated insurance premiums, but also should a worker be injured and make a claim, you will be responsible for all costs associated with the claim.

Note that in 2018, WorkCover WA Inspectors will be undertaking a campaign to visit employers in the electrical contracting industry and will ask employers to produce Certificates of Currency (which employers are obliged keep on the business premises).

Disclaimer: the short guidelines above are not legal advice and for more information on whether an independent contractor may be classed as a ‘worker’ , call NECA Legal (WA) Pty Ltd on (08) 6241 6129 or email necalegalwa@ecawa.org.au.