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If you’ve been injured on the job in Queensland and believe you are not covered by workers compensation then this article is designed to help. In addition, our team can check for free if you are eligible for workers compensation. Protections are in place to protect workers who should have been covered by their employer.

There are many forms of employment that a worker may experience in Queensland. You may be employed as a casual worker, a part time or full-time employee, or work under an agreement or contract which is specific to your field. You may be paid in cash, partially in cash and partially in wages, or under a different type of agreement which is worked out with your employer. 

If you fit the definition of an employee, you are most likely eligible to claim for your injuries and loss if you have been injured while at work or undertaking work duties. If you are a contractor who is hired to work for someone else, you will need to identify whether you are covered under workers compensation.

In 2018-2019, there were a total of 114,435 claims for serious injury (claims resulting in five or more days off from work). There was an average time lost of 6 weeks per serious claim, with $11,700 paid in total per serious claim. Of the claims made, 72% were for injuries, while 28% were for diseases. There are many claims made for injuries every year, with employees entitled to receive compensation for injuries sustained so long as they are covered under workers compensation.

If your employer has told you that you are not covered by workers compensation, or that you are ineligible to receive workers compensation due to the way in which you are employed, read on to find out whether you are covered and how you can go about making a claim for workers compensation.

Murphy’s Law Accident Lawyers are here to help ensure that you receive the appropriate compensation and payment in the event that you are injured at work or injured as a result of someone else’s negligence. Arrange your free 15-minute consultation with our no win, no fee lawyers today and find out whether you may be able to claim for your personal injury

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Which type of workers are not covered by workers compensation insurance?

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If someone is defined as a worker in Queensland then they are eligible to receive workers compensation. Anyone who is under PAYG and some contractors are considered workers and are therefore eligible to receive workers compensation. If you are working at the direction of and/or under the supervision of a boss (i.e., you are expected to turn up at work a certain time and place) despite being paid in cash, you’re most likely going to be deemed to be an employee. This is regardless of whether the work is full-time, part-time or casual.

The things that define a worker include:

  • The type of work you do
  • How you are paid
  • How much control you have over your work
  • Whether you can pay someone else to do your work for you
  • Whether you supply your own tools and equipment
  • Whether you are an independent worker.

Certain types of workers are not generally covered by workers compensation, including:

If you are unsure if you fit under the banner of ‘worker’ for the sake of your workers compensation claim, speak to our workplace injury lawyers to find out more about where you might stand. We can help you understand your employers’ obligations and assist in getting you started with making a claim for compensation (if you are eligible).

NOTE: Even if you are not covered by workers compensation insurance, you may still have other avenues to make a claim including:

Is there any protection if the business owner didn’t have workers compensation insurance for me?

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Yes, if your employer failed to have in place the required Queensland workers compensation policy then you will still be eligible to claim for workers compensation and damages. Your employer has an obligation to have workers insurance within five days of employing you. If your employer did not have workers compensation in place for you, you can still make a claim through WorkCover who will cover your medical expenses and costs as well as lost wages where applicable.

Example: Lynette has started a new job and one month into her new role she slips on a flight of stairs that is improperly lit. She breaks her ankle and has to take three months off work. Her employer had not put her onto their work compensation policy yet. Lynette can make a claim through WorkCover for her injuries and associated costs, including lost income. WorkCover would recover the costs of this compensation back through Lynette’s employer.

Example: Gareth is a contractor who has been employed by a plumber who is contracted to perform building works, to go onto a building site and replace a single component on a job. Gareth does the work and then on his way to his truck he rolls his ankle as he is putting some tools in his truck and is unable to work for two weeks and has to get physiotherapy. Gareth would likely not be able to claim for compensation as he would not be considered a worker for WorkCover.

Is it illegal to not have workers compensation insurance?

It is a requirement that all employers have workers' compensation insurance. This is mandated under the Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003. This Act requires all Queensland businesses which employ workers to hold and maintain an accident insurance policy to cover their workers. As we noted above though, if your employer did not have workers compensation in place and you are injured, the claim will still be handled by WorkCover.

WorkCover will then seek to recover the amount paid to the injured employee from the employer, which means that employers cannot avoid their obligation to provide workplace cover for injuries to their workers.

I was paid in cash, am I entitled to workers compensation when injured?

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The short answer is, yes. It’s not illegal to be paid in cash and simply being paid in cash does not negatively affect your eligibility for workers compensation. Though it is, of course, worth noting that you still have an obligation to declare your earnings even if you are being paid in cash. A key reason why it is important to report on your cash earnings is because if you are injured, your lost income will be worked out by how much you have declared. If you are only declaring half of your cash earnings, you will only be compensated for this amount as lost earnings. So, it might be more difficult than it would be if you were being paid as an employee, but it is not impossible for you to bring a workers compensation claim even if you are being paid in cash.

Payment of workers in cash is widespread, particularly in the hospitality, labouring, and construction industries. For the employer, it could be an unlawful practice if the payments are made in cash to circumvent the need to have workers compensation insurance, to not pay payroll tax, or to avoid paying superannuation entitlements. However, even if your employer has no official record of your employment, you can still be covered by workers compensation and for any injuries you might have sustained.

What happens if I have not been reporting my income properly and need to make a claim?

In some cases, you may be injured and looking to make a claim for compensation but know that you have underreported your income. In this case, you should consider what the potential loss may be to you in the future if you do not make the claim and then suffer adverse effects from your injury later in life.

If you are concerned about any adverse impact from making a claim, we would strongly recommend you consider proceeding with your workers compensation claim for the following reasons:

  • Weekly benefits of compensation usually exceed social security benefits (which is most likely your alternate method of getting paid).
  • Your hospital, medical and other expenses will be paid by the insurer and you will not have to rely on the public health care system or paying for it yourself.
  • If you sustain a permanent impairment because of the injury, you will be entitled to apply for lump sum compensation, which is separate to and in addition to your other statutory rights to compensation; and
  • If your injury was caused through the fault of your employer, you may potentially have an entitlement to a common law damages claim (which you won’t otherwise be able to access unless a workers compensation claim is accepted).

So, regardless of whether you’re paid in cash, if the circumstances leading to injury happened while you were employed, you are eligible for workers compensation benefits.

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