Guide to Workers Compensation in QLD

If you're an employer in Queensland, you'l need to get WorkCover.


warningAlert: If your employee has the coronavirus (COVID-19), and their job played a significant role (COVID-19)in them catching the disease, they may be covered by workers compensation.

All employers in Queensland are required to hold a workers compensation insurance for their workers. In QLD, this is often known as accident insurance.

Who's considered a worker?

A worker can be defined as anyone who a business employs who are not contractors or self-employed or owners of the business. Most employees will naturally fall into this category.

'Contractors' are not workers, and you are not required to purchase accident insurance workers compensation cover for them. Other individuals in certain situations and occupations are also exempt. These exemptions, and how to differentiate workers and contractors, are explained further below.

What other types of insurance for does my industry need to consider?

Types of workers compensation insurance in Queensland

Workers compensation in Queensland is managed by the state government. Although you cannot shop around for different insurers, you are able to choose from several different policy types (depending on who it's for.

Insurance type Who is it for?Details
Accident insurance
  • Employees for your business
This is standard, mandatory workers compensation for your employees. It covers you against employee claims for workplace injuries and death, including psychological, gradual and latent injuries, and aggravation of pre-existing conditions
Household worker insurance
  • Employees for your private residence e.g. contractors.
This covers compensation costs if employees are injured around your home e.g cleaners, nannies, gardeners, in-home carers, etc.
Workplace personal injury insurance
  • This is for individuals e.g. owners, contractors, directors, partners of a company.
This is optional cover that you, other individuals or contractors can take out. It covers accidental injuries.
Self- Insurance
  • Employees for your business
This is insurance not bought through the government. Eligible large companies with 2,000+ employees may register as self-insurers.

How are workers compensation rates calculated in QLD?

Accident insurance workers compensation premiums are calculated based on:

  1. The size of your business
  2. Your industry
  3. Your claims history (if any)

Here's how it works.

For businesses who pay $1.5 million or less in wages:

Businesses are assigned a rating from 1 to 5 based on their claims experience relative to the industry standard - a safer than usual workplace will lead to better ratings.

These ratings directly affect your premiums, getting you either a discount or a surcharge on the industry standard rates.

Rating CategoryPremium Rate
Rating 180%
Rating 290%
Rating 3100%
Rating 4110%
Rating 5120%

  • Employers can only move a maximum of one category per year, and will never get a resulting premium change of more than 10% from year to year
  • New employers start at rating 3
  • Employers who surpass Rating 1 may receive an additional 5% premium rate reduction
  • Employers who fall below Rating 5 will be reviewed on a case by case basis

For businesses who pay more than $1.5 million in wages

Accident insurance premiums for these companies are calculated with an experience based rating (EBR). This determines your premiums based on a combination of:

  • Claims regardless of fault (statutory claims). This is known as statutory claims. It refers against you in the last three years, when an injured worker claims no-fault benefits after an injury
  • Any common law workers compensation claims made against you in the last four years, when an injured worker sues for at-fault benefits, alleging their employer is at least partly liable for the accident
  • Your business size relative to the size of your industry, as determined by wages

Who needs workers compensation cover?

There are no remuneration thresholds to meet. If someone qualifies as a worker you must cover them, regardless of how much they are paid.

  • Workers will always be individual people. You are not required to cover organisations or groups you have hired, except as individuals who individually qualify as your workers.
  • Company directors, trustees working on behalf of a trust, and partners in a partnership do not count as workers and cannot get covered with accident insurance.
  • Contractors do not count as workers, and do not require cover. You can tell the difference between workers and contractors by using the table and tools below.
Cannot subcontract the tasks they performContractors are free to pay someone else (subcontractors) to do the job at hand
The worker is paid hourly for the time worked, piece work or earns a commissionContractors are paid for results achieved based on a quote they have provided
The worker is not legally liable for the cost of rectifying defects. Their employer is.Contractors are personally liable for their work and the cost of rectifying defects
Workers can be directed how to carry out tasks by their employersContractors have freedom in how work is done, subject to the terms of a given contract, and typically provide their required tools and equipment without being paid an allowance for them
The worker does not operate independently of the employer’s business. They work within and are considered part of the business.Contractors operate their own business independent to the employer, and are free to accept or refuse additional work
  • If the above table is not enough to clearly distinguish workers from contractors, use the ATO employee/contractor decision tool to get an answer. WorkCover QLD will accept the results of this tool for claims and insurance purposes.

Other people who are specifically excluded from accident cover, even if they meet the other definitions of a worker, are:

  • Professional sportspeople
  • Members of fishing vessel crews paid wholly or mainly by the gross profits of that vessel
  • Driving instructors, or anyone who otherwise earns tuition from a motor vehicle
  • People who participate in an approved program or work for unemployment payment
  • People with a personal services business determination (PSBD). This is a written notice from the Australian Tax Office confirming that the individual is a personal services business.

All these exempt individuals do not need to be covered by personal accident workers compensation insurance.

Other occupations, including commission-only salespersons, some share farmers and people engaged by labour hire agencies do need workers compensation cover regardless of whether they meet other eligibility criteria.

  • All workers need to be covered by accident insurance.
  • Is is mandatory to provide household worker insurance cover for certain domestic workers
  • Larger businesses with the resources to manage their own workers compensation schemes may be eligible for self insurance.
  • Sole traders and other individuals who cannot get accident insurance may want to take out workplace personal injury insurance instead.

QLD workers compensation benefits

WorkCover QLD insurance can provide:

  • Weekly compensation for lost income
  • Medical, surgical and hospital expenses
  • Rehabilitation treatment, and related equipment or services
  • Travel and other expenses
  • Death benefits
  • Cover of common law damages

It will not cover the cost of:

  • Damage to clothing or jewellery
  • Vehicle damage for injuries that occurred on the way to or from work
  • Unauthorised or unnecessary medical expenses

Weekly compensation payments

If an injury requires a worker to take time off or cut back their hours, they may be entitled to benefits for loss of income. Whether this is necessary will be included on the injured worker’s work capacity doctor’s certificate. Weekly benefits will depend on the length of time someone is certified as being unfit for work, when the injury occurred and other specifics of the situation. Weekly compensation payments will stop when:

  • A worker is no longer injured and returns to work
  • A lump sum offer has been received or a settlement agreed on
  • There have been 5 years of weekly payments
  • The total amount paid in weekly compensation reaches the maximum applicable limit

Medical and rehabilitation costs

Once a claim has been accepted, WorkCover QLD may pay reasonable medical and rehabilitation expenses relating to a claim. There are set fee lists for medical services, much like with Medicare. You can find the set fees for essential medical treatments here, and the set fees for allied healthcare services, such as physiotherapy, here. If you use a provider who charges more than the fees listed on those pages, you will be responsible for paying the difference. Treatments are only covered when:

  • They are clear medical treatments provided by a registered professional, such as a doctor, dentist or physiotherapist.
  • Surgical and hospital expenses, such as bandages and prescription drugs, must be essential to a worker’s recovery
  • Rehabilitation treatments, services and equipment such as rehabilitation therapies, wheelchairs and prosthetics must be a required part of the worker’s recovery.

In most cases the medical practitioner will send the bill directly to WorkCover, but sometimes an injured worker may need to pay for the treatment at a the time. In this case they should clearly mark the receipts with their name and claim number and send them in to WorkCover QLD. They can be uploaded online here, can be faxed to 1300 651 387, or mailed to GPO Box 2459, Brisbane, QLD 4001.

Travel and other expenses

Necessary and reasonable travel costs, including for medical treatments and medical assessments are covered by QLD workers compensation. Travel for one-way trips less than 20km away or where there is a closer option available is not covered. Other reimbursements include:

  • Parking costs for medical treatment or rehabilitation, medical assessment tribunal visits, or independent medical assessments
  • Meals when whole-day or overnight travel is required
  • Reasonable itemised chemist expenses directly related to the work injury
  • Equipment provided by a treating provider which can improve function or assist the employee in returning to work

Lump sum permanent impairment payments

If an injured worker has permanent impairment as a result of a workplace injury they may be entitled to lump sum compensation. Impairment can generally be distinguished by the permanent loss of efficient use of a specific body part, or of a general part of the body.

  • The size of the lump sum payment depends on the worker’s degree of impairment
  • To claim lump sum benefits, an injured worker must first be assessed for permanent impairment. They may request this themselves, or WorkCover QLD might decide to have them assessed.
  • Injured workers are not required to retain a lawyer for lump sum assessments. These benefits are a purely medical decision.

Death benefits

Dependents of a deceased worker may claim lump sum or quarterly benefit payments, as well as reasonable funeral expenses. The requirements can be complex and WorkCover QLD encourages claiming dependents to call 1300 362 128 for a clear idea of what is required. Claiming family members may need to show:

  • Proof of financial dependence on the deceased
  • That they are a partner or child of the worker
  • Medical evidence to support the claim

Common law damages

When an injured worker sues their employer for damages, WorkCover QLD represents the employer and can pay the damages, including:

  • Past and future loss of income
  • Medical treatments
  • Pain and suffering
  • Legal costs

What kind of WorkCover QLD insurance do I need?

  • You must take out an accident insurance (standard workers compensation) policy for all workers
  • You must take out household workers insurance when employing domestic workers around the house
  • You may take out workplace personal injury insurance to get personal workers compensation type cover even if you’re not eligible for accident insurance.
  • You may opt for self insurance instead as a large and profitable company with 2,000+ workers

Queensland workers compensation FAQs

Will workers compensation help with the coronavirus?

According to the Australian government, the coronavirus may be covered under workers' compensation, if the employee can prove they caught the disease largely because of their job.

This might be difficult for many jobs but there are still plenty out there which put employees at a significantly higher risk of catching the coronavirus.

For example, the employment may involve travel to an area with a known outbreak, it may include interaction with people who have contracted the coronavirus, or it may have responsibilities which contravene Department of Health recommendations.

Each claim would be considered on a case-by-case basis, but there is certainly a possibility that workers' compensation could help many impacted staff.

Remember: Under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, business operators are required to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers and others at their workplaces.

Operators must identify hazards at the workplace as well as any associated risks - and act on them, by implementing practicable control measures. If you're aware the coronavirus is a risk in your workplace, and don't act on it, you might be in breach of the act.

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