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FAQs

The following frequently asked questions will provide you with information to help you achieve your workers’ compensation insurance requirements.

Making a claim

1. How do I make a claim for workers' compensation?
2. Who can make a claim?
3. I'm a sub-contractor, can I put in a claim for workers' compensation?
4. How long does it take for my claim to be decided?
5. Who covers my expenses while my claim is being processed?

Receiving workers' compensation

6. How are my weekly payments of compensation calculated?
7. Which medical expenses are covered?
8. Who do I give my medical bills to?
9. I haven't received my weekly workers' compensation payments, what do I do?
10. I disagree with my wage calculation, what can I do?
11. Does age affect my workers' compensation entitlements?
12. Can I claim expenses when I travel?
13. Can I claim for a taxi?
14. Do I accumulate leave while I'm on workers' compensation?
15. Does my employer make superannuation contributions while I'm on workers' compensation
16. Can I be dismissed while I'm not able to work?

Returning to work

17. What are my obligations in the return to work process?
18. What is a workplace rehabilitation provider?

Hearing loss

19. Do I need to be tested for hearing loss?
20. What is considered a noisy workplace?

Settling your claim

21. What is permanent impairment?
22. I want to settle my claim, what do I do?
23. What types of settlements are available?
24. Can I approach my employer to settle my claim directly?
25. What happens to my entitlements if I settle?
26. Are there any other implications of settlement?

Common law claims

27. What is a common law claim?
28. What are the implications of a common law claim on workers' compensation entitlements?
29. What compensation is available in the common law system?
30. When do I have to decide if I'm going to make a common law claim?

Making a claim

1. How do I make a claim for workers' compensation?

See a doctor to get a First Medical Certificate, then complete a Workers' Compensation Claim Form. Give a copy of each to your employer.

For more information, see the Make a claim page.

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2. Who can make a claim?

You are entitled to make a claim if you sustain an injury in the course of your employment and are defined by law as a worker.

The legal definition of a worker includes full-time, part-time, casual, seasonal, piece and commission workers. Working directors, contractors and sub-contractors may also be defined as workers depending on their working arrangements.

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3. I'm a sub-contractor, can I put in a claim for workers' compensation?

You can put in a claim if you sustain a workplace injury and are defined by law as a 'worker'.

Definition of a worker

The Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Act 1981 (The Act) provides a very broad definition of a ‘worker’. It covers:

  • full-time workers on a wage or salary;
  • part-time, casual and seasonal workers;
  • workers on commission;
  • piece workers;
  • working directors (companies now have an option as to whether working directors who have some ownership of the company and are ‘workers’ under the Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Act 1981 are to be insured under the workers’ compensation system); and
  • contractors and sub-contractors may also be defined as ‘workers’, depending on the circumstances of their working arrangement.

The definition of ‘worker’ may be broken up into two main parts: Primary and Extended.

Primary definition

This covers any person who works under a contract of service or apprenticeship with you. The contract may be expressed or implied, oral or written. A large part of the workforce is covered under this part of the definition, including workers who:

  • work for salary or wages;
  • work set hours of work;
  • may be terminated/dismissed by the employer;
  • work for only one employer; and/or
  • are supervised and controlled.

Extended definition

This covers any person who works under a contract for service. Many people who work on a contract or sub-contract basis may be covered under this part of the definition, and it may cover workers who:

  • are paid on piece rates, hourly rates or per job;
  • work for the employer on a ‘one-off’ or per job basis;
  • do not have set hours of work;
  • work for more than one employer;
  • work unsupervised; and/or
  • pay 20 per cent prescribed payments (sub-contractor’s tax).

A worker may also include any person who is covered by an industrial award or agreement.

For more information, see A technical note on Contractors and Workers Compensation (PDF - 4.9MB)

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4. How long does it take for a claim to be decided?

Your employer has five working days to submit your Claim Form and medical certificate to their insurer. The insurer has 14 days to make a decision on the claim.

If your employer is a self-insurer then they have 17 days to make a decision on the claim.

For more information, see the Make a claim page.

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5. Who covers my expenses while my claim is being processed?

You cover the costs of your expenses while your claim is being processed. However, these will be reimbursed (paid back) if the claim is accepted. It is important that you keep all your receipts during this time.

If you are unable to work while the claim is being processed, you can use your sick leave (make sure the lost time is covered by a medical certificate) or your annual leave and these must be re-credited to you if your claim is accepted.

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Receiving workers' compensation

6. How are my weekly payments of compensation calculated?

There are two methods of calculating weekly workers' compensation payments, depending on your conditions of employment. It is best to check with your employer if you are not sure about whether you work under an award agreement or not.

Industrial Award
If you are paid under an industrial award, for the first 13 weeks you receive your award rate of pay plus:
    • any over award or service payment
    • overtime, bonuses and allowances averaged over the 13 weeks prior to the incapacity.
From week 14 onwards you receive your award rate of pay plus:
    • any over award or service payment paid on a regular basis
    • any allowance paid on a regular basis and related to the number and pattern of hours worked
    • any other allowance prescribed by the regulations
    • overtime, bonuses and any other allowance is excluded.

Non award
If you are a non award worker, for the first 13 weeks you receive your average weekly earnings plus overtime, bonuses and allowances averaged over the 12 months prior to the incapacity.
From week 14 onwards you receive 85% of your average weekly earnings.

There is a limit that applies to your weekly payments while you are on workers’ compensation. The maximum weekly amount you can receive is set at two times the ‘average weekly earnings’ as calculated by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The maximum weekly amount for 2013/14 financial year is $2,448.50 The maximum amount is indexed on 1 July each year.

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7. Which medical expenses are covered?

Most 'reasonable' medical costs relating to your workers' compensation injury are covered while you are on workers' compensation.
Reasonable medical expenses include:
    • First aid and ambulance
    • Medicines
    • Medical or surgical attendance
    • Treatment by specialists
    • Dental
    • Physiotherapy
    • Chiropractic
    • Charges for hospital treatment
    • Other approved treatment (including osteopathy, clinical psychology, occupational therapy, speech pathology, exercise physiology).

Not all medical practitioners and allied health providers charge according to the scheduled workers’ compensation fees, so it is important to ask your health provider about any potential gap payments prior to making an appointment.
You may claim reasonable travel costs, for instance, for trips to medical appointments. This is best arranged through your employer’s insurer.
For workers in regional areas, this may also include reasonable meals and accommodation expenses.

It is recommended that you keep a record of your travel by recording vehicle kilometres, appointment times and dates and public transport receipts. The amount payable for travel, meals and accommodation expenses is limited. See the Medical Expenses page to find out more.

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8. Who do I give my medical bills to?

When your claim has been accepted, forward all accounts and invoices relating to medical treatment and other approved workers' compensation entitlements to your employer, or their insurer, as soon as possible.

As with all correspondence, it is important to keep and file copies for your own reference.

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9. I haven't received my weekly workers' compensation payments, what do I do?

Once your claim is accepted, your employer is required to pay your weekly compensation payments to you as if your were still at work, on your normal pay day and in the same way as you received your wages prior to your injury or illness. Penalties apply for employers who do not make weekly payments on the regular pay day.

If you do not receive your weekly compensation payments in this manner, you should:

  1. Speak to your employer:
    advise your employer that you have not received your weekly payments and check if there is an issue or a delay in making your weekly payments.
  2. Speak to your employer's insurer:
    If you cannot resolve the issue with your employer, you should contact your employer's insurer to discuss your concerns and to seek their assistance in resolving the issue.
  3. Keep records:
    Record the date and time of each contact you make and attempt to make with your employer and their insurer.
  4. Contact WorkCover WA's Advice and Assistance Unit:
    If you have attempted to resolve the issue with your employer and their insurer without success, contact WorkCover WA's Advice and Assistance Unit on 1300 794 744 for further advice and assistance.

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10. I disagree with my wage calculation, what can I do?

Firstly, go to your employer for clarification - they can review the amount and also check the wage calculation with their insurer.

Refer to the Loss of wages page for details about how your workers' compensation wage is calculated, and then contact WorkCover WA's Advice and Assistance Unit if you have further queries.

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11. Does age affect my workers' compensation entitlements?

No.

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12. Can I claim expenses when I travel?

Where you are required by your employer, their insurer or a medical practitioner to travel from your home to a medical appointment or rehabilitation provider, you can claim reasonable travel costs.

For workers in regional areas, reasonable costs may also include reasonable meal and accommodation expenses.

Your travel arrangements are best made through your employer’s insurer. It is recommended that you keep a record of your travel by recording vehicle kilometres, appointment times and dates and public transport receipts. The amount payable for travel, meals and accommodation expenses is limited.

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13. Can I claim for a taxi?

Check with your employer's insurer prior to making any booking. The insurer will usually determine whether this is a 'reasonable' cost by the availability of public transport and the type of injury suffered.

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14. Do I accumulate leave while I'm on workers' compensation?

Unfortunately, the Workers' Compensation and Injury Management Act 1981 does not make reference to leave entitlements. You should check with your employer or with Wageline to determine whether your employment contract or Award makes mention of this.

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15. Does my employer make superannuation contributions while I'm on workers' compensation?

The workers' compensation legislation does not make reference to superannuation contributions. You will need to discuss this with the Australian Taxation Office on 13 10 20.

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16. Can I be dismissed while I'm not able to work?

Yes. While an employer is expected to keep your job open for 12 months or provide alternative employment, they can still terminate your employment.

However, the employer must complete a 'notice of intention to dismiss', provide 28 days notice, advise WorkCover WA and provide you with a copy of the notice.

An employer is still required to keep an injured worker's original position open or provide an alternative position if it is reasonable.

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Returning to work

17. What are my obligations in the return to work process?

Injured workers should fully participate and cooperate with their employer and medical practitioner in the development of a return to work program.

For more information, see the Returning to work page.

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18. What is an Approved Workplace Rehabilitation Provider?

Approved Workplace Rehabilitation Providers have the qualifications, experience and expertise to maintain injured workers at work, or return them to work following an injury.

The costs of their services are covered within your workers' compensation claim. Find out more about their services on the Rehabilitation expenses page.

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Hearing loss

19. Do I need to be tested for hearing loss?

It is compulsory for employers to arrange baseline hearing tests for all workers in 'prescribed' (noisy) workplaces, even if wearing hearing protection.

For more information, see the Hearing loss page.

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20. What is a prescribed noisy workplace?

A 'prescribed workplace' exists when workers receive a personal noise dose of 90dB(A) or above during an eight hour day, or its equivalent, and where such a day is representative of the worker's typical work practices (approximately equal to the noise from an idling heavy motor truck at a distance of one mere).

Any workers who receive noise above the peak exposure of 140dB(in) on one or more occasions, even for a short time, will also require testing (approximately equal to the peak noise level from a mid to high calibre firearm at the user's ear).

For more information, see the Hearing loss page.

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Settling your claim

21. What is compensation for permanent impairment?

An additional range of benefits, including lump sum compensation payments, are available to workers who sustain permanent physical or psychological impairment as a result of their work-related injuries. Eligibility for compensation, including the total amounts claimable, is based on an evaluation of a worker’s whole of person impairment (WPI), by an Approved Medical Specialist.

For more information, see the Permanent Impairment page.

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22. I want to settle my claim, what do I do?

You and your employer's insurer must agree on the assessed percentage of permanent impairment and the type of settlement. In most cases your employer's insurer will then prepare the necessary paperwork for your signature.

The paperwork must then be lodged with the Conciliation and Arbitration Services (CAS). The CAS reviews and records the details of your settlement.

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23. What types of settlements are available?

There are two types of settlement options available in the workers' compensation system - Schedule 1 and Schedule 2 settlements.

Each settlement option has different criteria and you can read more about qualifying for these on the Settlements page.

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24. Can I approach my employer to settle my claim directly?

Yes you can, they can then contact the insurance company.

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25. What happens to my entitlements if I settle my claim?

Once you settle your claim, all of your workers' compensation entitlements (wages, medical, rehabilitation and travel) will stop.

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26. Are there any other implications of settlement?

Acceptance of a settlement may affect your entitlement to Centrelink benefits, so it is important to contact Centrelink before making a final decision on accepting a settlement.

It may also be advisable to contact the Australian Taxation Officer, Medicare and your private health insurance fund to find out if there are other possible implications of accepting a settlement.

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Common law claims

27. What is a common law claim?

In addition to settlements available in the workers' compensation system, you may be eligible to pursue a common law claim against your employer in the courts.

Pursuing a common law claim may affect your workers' compensation entitlements, so it is strongly recommended that you seek independent legal advice before making a decision.

For more information, see the Common law claims page.

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28. What are the implications of a common law claim on my workers' compensation entitlements?

Your access to workers' compensation entitlements may be affected if you elect to pursue a common law claim. For more information, see the Common law claims page.

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29. What compensation is available in the common law system?

There may be limits to the amount of compensation you can receive from a common law claim depending on your level of permanent impairment. For more information, see the Common law claims page.

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30. When do I have to decide if I'm going to make a common law claim?

You must make a claim for workers' compensation before the 'termination day'. The termination day is one year from the date your claim for weekly compensation payments was made to your employer.

For more information, see the Common law claims page.

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