Changes to Definition of Worker made by Queensland Parliament


It has come to our attention, thanks to our co-author Trinny, that recent changes were made by the Queensland Parliament  as to the definition of a “worker”, which basically means that fewer workers are now covered under the QLD workers compensation Act.

All Queensland workers and employers are urged check their workers’ compensation obligations urgently.

Changes to Definition of Worker made by Queensland Parliament

Queensland employers and workers are being urged to review their workers’ compensation obligations, after the State Government’s Industrial Relations (Transparency and Accountability of Industrial Organisations) and Other Acts Amendment Bill 2013 passed through Parliament this week.

As reported by OHS Alert in May, the Bill replaces the current broad definition of “worker” in the State Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 – a “person who works under a contract of service” (s11) – with the following provision:

“A worker is a person who (a) works under a contract; and (b) 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.”

A parliamentary committee inquiry into the Queensland workers’ comp scheme recently advised against amending the definition, saying it could have “unintended imposts” on the scheme, and lead to “vulnerable” workers being “unknowingly excluded” from injury cover.

The current definition has been “tested at law and fundamentally works”, the inquiry found.

But it is understood that Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said  that the new definition, which took effect on 1 July 2013, will ensure the objectives of the workers’ comp scheme are achieved “without burdensome red tape”.

The changes are likely to have a significant effect on the construction and transport industries.

Examples of individuals no longer covered for workers’ compensation are those who: supply and operate their own plant, such as earthmoving equipment or trucks, as part of their contract; work mainly or substantially for labour only, quote for the job, provide their tools of trade or rectify defects at their own expense; or have a personal services business determination from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

Those who might be affected by the new definition should consult  – workcover QLD website on the changes, and the ATO’s employee/contractor decision tool.

7 Responses to “Changes to Definition of Worker made by Queensland Parliament”

  1. Oh dear, it doesn’t end here – workcover QLD is also planning to abolish journey claims – referring to it as a “luxury”, WTF!

    WorkCover QLD review could strip workers of right to compensation

    BOSSES and unions have clashed over revelations that the State Government is considering axing compensation for workers injured on their way to work.

    Injury compensation lawyer Mark O’Connor said dumping the provision under WorkCover Queensland would be “mean” and “heartless”.

    “An injury caused when a worker is going to or from work has no individual impact on the employer’s WorkCover premiums. In fact travel claims represent only about 5c to the average premiums rate,” he said.

    Mr O’Connor said businesses wanted it cut to save employers money on their premiums.

    He said travel claims had a negligible impact on the whole scheme.

    “In 2011/2012 WorkCover paid $1.35 billion of which $69 million was in travel claims but $27 million of it was refunded to WorkCover by CTP insurers when common law claims were settled.

    “It’s time the Attorney-General stepped up and assured Queenslanders their scheme is safe from meddling,” he said.

    The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) spokesman Nick Behrens said the current system was unfairly balanced and a recent review had failed to address the genuine concerns of Queensland businesses.

    “CCIQ does not propose a fundamental change to what is generally a solid performing workers’ compensation scheme, but members are concerned the ledger is skewed too far in favour of the employee,” Mr Behrens said.

    “The State Government must introduce peripheral changes to restore balance and improve the operation of the scheme to address the concerns of the business community.”

    Queensland Council of Unions president John Battams called for the Newman Government to accept the recommendations of its own Parliamentary committee, which advised the status quo should remain.

    “Today we had Queensland Chamber of Commerce and Industry incredibly saying it was a ‘luxury’ to cover for workers injured travelling to or from work.

    “Injured workers would not think it is a luxury to be able to feed their families or pay their bills,” Mr Battams said.


    WORKERS injured on their way to and from work face being stripped of their right to compensation under a shake-up to WorkCover Queensland.

    The State Government is considering dumping journey and recess claims, which last year cost the scheme $50 million for 6000 cases. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland will today increase pressure on Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie to introduce reforms to WorkCover, which also include stopping staff from suing employers for minor injuries suffered at work.

    Workers who are involved in car accidents or hurt themselves in other ways while travelling to and from work can apply for compensation.

    However, CCIQ believes the system is being rorted by staff and want journey claims dumped so business can cut its premiums. Employers pay a workers’ compensation premium based on the wages, their industry classification and the number of claims in the past.

    Statistics show most claims are made in southeast Queensland.

    Business lobbying has alarmed the Queensland Council of Unions president John Battams, who said he had been leaked information that Mr Bleijie was getting ready to buckle to the big end of town. However, Mr Bleijie made it clear that no decision had been made.

    “The Government is currently considering a report from the Inquiry into the Operation of Queensland’s Workers’ Compensation Scheme,” Mr Bleijie said.

    Mr Bleijie said lodgements for journey claims had been stable for 10 years but more money was being paid because of a growth in wages and medical costs. He said depending on the circumstances of the injury, the motor accident insurance scheme (CTP) could also provide coverage.

    WorkCover was able to recover costs of the statutory claim from the CTP insurer if the person subsequently lodged a successful damages claim under that scheme, he said.

    A review of the scheme was required by law and was completed this year. A Parliamentary Committee recommended that journey claims and the right to sue remain.

    A briefing note sent to Mr Bleijie in April – and obtained by Saturday’s Courier-Mail – revealed that WorkCover had costed three options in relation to ditching journey claims. It modelled scrapping it for all workers, scrapping it for all workers except police and scrapping for all workers except police and emergency service workers.

    Mr Battams said workers would be left in the lurch if the Government dumped both provisions.

    He said Queensland’s scheme was fair and sustainable.

    “The nature of our state is that people have to travel long distances to get to work on bad roads,” he said.

    “Many of them have no choice.”

    He accused Mr Bleijie of deliberately waiting until after the Federal election to make a decision.

    CCIQ spokesman Nick Behrens said it would help business if the Government restricted access to compensation. Mr Behrens said while business wanted journey claims scrapped it really wanted to stop workers for suing for minor injuries.

    He said injured workers should be given a set amount depending on their injury.

    “The common law process is an expensive way of awarding compensation to employees compared to the statutory process, particularly for minor injuries in the lower levels of whole of person injury.

    “The average common law claim settlement, $120,150, is approximately 17 times more than the average cost of a statutory claim, $7070,” Mr Behrens said.

    Q: What constitutes a journey claim?
    A: The Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 provides compensation for injuries that occur on a worker’s journey between their home and workplace by deeming such injuries to arise out of the worker’s employment. A journey from or to a worker’s home starts or ends at the boundary of the land on which the home is situated. The legislation does not provide coverage for injuries arising out of a journey if the injury occurs during or after a substantial delay before the worker starts the journey. A parent dropping off or picking up children from child care would not generally be considered to have substantially interrupted or deviated from the journey as it is something the parent habitually or customarily does.

    Q: Who is covered?
    A: All workers as defined by the legislation are covered for work-related injuries.

    Q: Who pays out?
    A: WorkCover Queensland is a statutory agency responsible for providing workers’ compensation insurance to most Queensland employers. There are also 25 companies who are licensed by Q-Comp (workers’ compensation scheme regulator), to self-insure.

  2. Overwhelmed, I was being sarcastic and I am on the side of all workers who are injured, especially those who have been impoverished by the system. This whole idea of workers having their own income protection comes from the policies of the Torries in Britain and of course is supported 100% by insurance companies. All workers need to resist this passionately as it shifts the burden of not only WC but also workplace safety onto the worker. Soon they will expect us to pay them to get employment (will it ever end?). WCV you are totally correct on this, unfortunately the poor and those not fluent in English will be the first victims. We have to fight all of these changes.

  3. I think the way they go about making these “subtle” yet drastic changes is done is a most sly and underhanded manner, indeed targeting the most vulnerable workers – those who are most often unaware of such changes, such as manual labourers, less educated workers, often not as fluent in English. It is hard enough for us to actually find and source these changes, that’s how well hidden they are (from the general madia and population). Pretty abhorrent.

  4. I could not afford income protection on a basic wage however, some can afford it and my wage is now reduced by 80%…I’m living on a credit card! I suppose i’m lucky to have that!

  5. Hey, there is an answer to this – take out your own workers comp insurance. And that folks was the hidden agenda the whole time. Insurance companies and their bedfellows – state governments have been involved in the systematic dismantling of WC. Look at how they are obsessed with reducing premiums for WC, has anyone ever seen Insurance companies ever do this with other insurance???? The plan is for every worker to have their own WC insurance (what do you think income protection is?) and then they will systematically increase the premiums, just like they do with all other insurance. So employers get a free ride, workers pay (yes it is a pay cut) and government gets a boost from the business community. It is sickening and unfair but that is what they want.

    • There are other aspects that have led to this situation and one as may be expected, it is the minority ‘opportunists’ who for their self gratification and greed, have caused the remainder of us to be penalised. To protect our rights, don’t ignore or accept unethical behaviour of others taking ‘sickies’ placing false claims to get remuneration for no work etc. This costs all of us – employers, employees, contractors and we as tax payers. The money for these parasites has to come from some where and it is from each of us! So to protect yourself as a worker with a genuine need for assistance, you are obligated to ensure the system we all pay for to help our mates in genuine need is not abused. We all need to take responsibility. Those who cheat the system should be accountable and those who support that behaviour also. No – your not being a ‘dog’ – you are being a mate to those genuinely in need. Over to you red rover …. go get em. Dob in a cheat and we all benefit so those that are genuine get their fair entitlement as they should.

      • @Rusos Demetrios: I not sure if you are the big Greek guy who sang in a high voice or not.

        Mmmmmm, Anyway, my, my, we are self opinionated, aren’t we!

        Whilst I agree with you that anyone committing fraud should be punished, the only real fraudsters in the Workers Comp systems are the insurers themselves.!

        I still cannot believe the WorkCover business model – the more the “scheme” costs, the higher the income of the Workers Comp insurers. It is NOT in their interests to spend less money. The Urban Myth about hordes of injured workers ripping of the system has been discussed on this blog before.

        My dear chap, look at yourself before aiming at the vulnerable.

        If you want to discuss the huge waste, bullying and abuses continuously being metered out by corrupt, IMEs and rehab providers, lets go for!

        The main role of insurance doctors (IMEs) and rehab providers is to get the injured off the system as quickly as possible so they can get their bonus. I have been told by my rehab provider that the whole system is only about money – not about helping.

        If you seriously think that any injured worker would choose to exist on minimal money, constantly harassed by Case Managers, IMEs, constant denial of legitimate expenses, endless legal and other adversarial bullying (all designed to wear you down and get you to walk away),

        Maybe you are right. Maybe we should be grovelling to the insurers and praising God for their generosity!!!!!!!

        Why don’t you get you head out of your arse and actually learn how this fucked up workers comp system ACTUALLY works