A contractor or sub-contractor may be defined as a ‘worker’ if they are engaged to do work by another person for the purpose of the other person’s trade or business, and they are paid for their personal manual labour or services.

Examples of people who work under a contract for service and are likely to be considered a worker include:

  • Contractors or sub-contractors who perform the actual activities of the employer’s trade or business (e.g. a bricklayer or plasterer contracted by a builder).
  • Contractors or sub-contractors who perform activities for the efficient conduct of an employer’s trade or business (e.g. a fencing contractor contracted by a farmer).
Under section 175 of the Act, if a person (the ‘principal’) contracts with another person (the ‘contractor’) to perform work which is for the purpose of the principal’s normal trade or business, then both the principal and the contractor are liable to cover any workers the contractor may employ. Both parties are jointly, and severally liable to cover the contractor’s workers. In other words, each must have a workers’ compensation policy.

Furthermore, if the contractor in turn sub-contracts the work to a sub-contractor, then all parties – including the principal, the contractor and the sub-contractor – are liable to cover any workers the sub-contractor may employ. Principals should ensure that all contractors have current workers’ compensation insurance policies, and all workers should check they are covered.

For more information, read the publication on contractors and workers compensation.

If you have further queries, contact WorkCover WA’s Advice and Assistance on 1300 794 744.