WorkCover (or workers’ compensation) is a compulsory insurance imposed upon employers who engage employees and common law employees. WorkCover Queensland is the statutory authority who manages the statutory insurance scheme under the Workers Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003.

The insurance provided is best described as two-part:

  • Insurance for injured workers for loss of income, medical costs and loss of capacity due to a work-related injury or illness under statutory entitlements
  • Insurance for employers against injured employees making common law claims against the employer.

This section of the website provides a basic summary of your obligations under the WorkCover scheme and covers changes to the workers' compensation legislation, and should be used as a guide only. For more detailed advice and assistance in determining who you need to cover, contact Master Builders or visit the WorkCover Queensland website.

Who is a worker?

The Queensland Government has announced a new definition of ‘worker’ for the workers compensation and rehabilitation scheme in Queensland. This is a significant improvement for the industry and aligns with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) definition of employee/contractor.

The definition of worker is: a person who works under a contract and, 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. This applies to a person for whom PAYG (pay as you go) tax installments are required or would be required to be withheld by their employer.

Read more about the worker definition changes on the WorkCover Queensland website.

ATO guidelines & tools

The ATO website has guidelines for determining employee/contractor status. WorkCover will use the ATO guidelines and tools to determine who should be covered for workers’ compensation. After using the tool, employers MUST keep a copy of the determination as a record.

Members are advised to take reasonable care when using the ATO decision tools to identify who is/is not a worker. For example, the relationship between an employer and an individual may change over time and accordingly, care needs to be taken that any changes are reflected in the wages declared to WorkCover.

Members are advised that the ATO decision tool, building and construction industry – employee/contractor decision tool, is clearly a complex decision tool with significant anomalies. It is for this reason that members are encouraged to maintain a default minimum policy with WorkCover Queensland at all times to prevent being uninsured.

Pre-start due-diligence is important

Builders operating in the building and construction industry are required by the Queensland Building Services Authority Act 1991 (Qld) to ensure that contractors who are engaged are licenced contractors prior to engagement. While acknowledging that not all subcontractors are required to be licenced with the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC), including plant operators, these licencing requirements dictate that pre-start, due-diligence checks must be made before engaging a contractor. These checks now include:

Examples for working on-site in the building and construction industry include:

Examples for working on-site in the building and construction industry Included as a worker subject to the ATO decision tool check Excluded not a  worker subject to the ATO decision tool check
Bricklayer on $32 an hour, labour only, on ABN, without a contract Included
Bricklayer gang of three workers organised by a person in business on a rate per thousand blocks with a contract   Excluded
A carpenter working directly for a builder may charge $38 per hour for majority labour only and no contract Included
A carpenter in business with an apprentice and a contract
Excavator or concrete pump operators are in business supplying labour and machinery
Two tilers in partnership working for a builder are in business with a contract
A cleaner working for a builders under an ABN to clean new homes with no contract and not working for others Included
A building consultant providing inspection services to many builders who are in business
A sediment control barrier installer supplying labour, machinery and materials who are in business
A plasterer or painter working under an ABN for a plastering or painting contractor on labour only with no quotes or contracts. Included
A concreter or steelfixer working under an ABN for a subcontractor on labour only as part of a gang. Included

Need more information?

If your questions are not answered by the information provided on our website, you can phone us or email us for specific advice and guidance.