WorkCover WA devotes significant resources to regulating employers’ compliance with their obligations under the Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Act 1981 (the Act).

This section is an overview about the employer compliance, investigation and enforcement activities.

Employers have a range of legal responsibilities regarding workers’ compensation including:

  • Maintaining a current workers’ compensation insurance policy covering all their workers
  • Lodging workers’ compensation claims with their insurer within 5 working days
  • Having an Injury Management System in place
  • Preparing return to work plans for employees who are injured at work

These are legal obligations and penalties apply if these obligations are not met.

WorkCover WA provides resources to help employers understand their obligations. Information is available under the employers tab on the home page on the WorkCover WA website and you can also refer to:

Employers must have workers’ compensation insurance for everyone they employ, including contractors and sub-contractors and family members. Cover for working directors is optional. Further information is available in the following publications:

Covering your workersContractors and subcontractors and Working Directors

If you employ, you must obtain a Certificate of Currency from an insurer. A Certificate of Currency is evidence of a current workers’ compensation insurance policy. A certificate issued by a broker or any other documents issued by an insurer are not valid Certificates of Currency.

Failure to have a valid Certificate of Currency available for inspection is an offence under section 160(7) of the Act and can incur a penalty of $2,000.

WorkCover WA monitors employers’ compliance with their duty to insure.

We also have a team of experienced Advisory officers who can be contacted on 1300 794 744 from 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday if you have any questions about workers’ compensation.

Employers have specific responsibilities when an injured worker gives them a workers’ compensation claim. These include:

  • Giving the claim to their insurer within five working days.
  • When the claim is approved by the insurer, paying wages on the injured worker’s usual pay day and in the usual manner
  • Maintaining communication with the injured worker
  • Preparing a return to work plan once a medical practitioner advises the worker has some capacity for work.
  • It is the role of the insurer to determine if liability is to be accepted for the claim. If you disagree with the claim, the form still needs to be lodged with the insurer which will discuss your concerns with you. Further information is available here: Receiving and managing claims
WorkCover WA is responsible for ensuring all employers are fully insured for workers’ compensation. WorkCover WA Inspectors contact employers and may require the production of documents, including records of remuneration, certificates of currency or trust deeds.

WorkCover WA also ensures employers meet their obligations in relation to injury management and returning to work where workers have been injured at work.

If WorkCover WA has reason to believe an employer has not met legal requirements, an Inspector will investigate. WorkCover WA investigators are authorised to perform the functions of an Inspector under section 175B(1) of the Act.

An Inspector will provide written or verbal notice and must clearly state the power or powers being exercised and for what purpose.

  • Enter, inspect and examine any place where it is suspected workers may be employed or books, accounts, documents or records required to be inspected may be held
  • Conduct investigations as necessary to ascertain whether there has been compliance with the Act
  • Interview any person who the inspector has reasonable grounds to believe is able to provide information that may be able to assist the inspector to perform a function under the Act
  • Require people to verify statements by signing a statutory declaration form
  • Require auditor certification of remuneration paid to workers
  • Require any person to state their name and address
  • Require an employer or any of their workers to provide assistance

Not responding and/or not providing documents when requested may lead to penalties.

See cost of non-compliance below.

Breaches of the Act are liable to a letter of caution, infringement notice or criminal prosecution.

Letters of caution serve as formal warnings to employers and advise that the current offence will be taken into account in determining the response to future non-compliance.

Where an employer has previously received a letter of caution and further non-compliance is detected, an infringement notice will be issued or prosecution will be commenced.

Infringement notices are issued with a modified penalty as specified in WorkCover WA regulations. A modified penalty is a penalty which is not imposed by a court. Paying a modified penalty is not an admission of guilt for the purposes of any proceedings, whether civil or criminal.

If an employer receives an infringement notice, they may:

  • Apply to WorkCover WA for limited extensions of time to pay (there is no option to pay by instalments)
  • Elect to have the matter dealt with in court
  • Request the infringement be withdrawn if there is information that demonstrates a breach did not occur.
If an employer does not hold the required insurance cover it can be prosecuted through the Magistrates Court and penalised up to $5,000 for each worker employed. Additionally, an amount equal to the total of any avoided insurance premium payments which would have been payable during the period of 5 years before the conviction may also be payable. Corporations, as defined by the Corporations Act, may be subject to greater penalties.

WorkCover WA’s prosecutorial discretion is guided by the Statement of Prosecution Policy and Guidelines issued by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and published in the Western Australian Government Gazette on 3 June 2005.

Go to: Statement of Prosecution Policy and Guidelines

The information provided above should not be viewed as a substitute for legal advice regarding employer duties and obligations under the Workers’ Compensation and injury Management Act 1981. Employers are encouraged to seek legal advice if they become subject to investigation and enforcement action.

WorkCover WA’s Compliance Officers regularly visit workplaces across the State to ensure each has a current workers’ compensation policy and an injury management system in place. They may also check for evidence of return to work programs should you have past or present claims.

The penalties for non-compliance are outlined below. You can also see examples of prosecutions on the Prosecution results page.

If you don’t have workers’ compensation insurance, your business will be liable for the cost of the benefits paid if one of your workers has a work related injury or industrial disease.

Costs could include:

  • in excess of $600,000 in benefits if a worker is injured
  • legal costs involved in court action
  • liability for the cost of any action taken at common law
  • fines of up to $5000 per worker
  • an amount equal to any avoided premiums going back five years
  • separate and further offences for every week you remain uninsured after the date of conviction.
Some employers may attempt to engage in ‘avoidance arrangements’ to try to avoid their liabilities under the Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Act 1981 (the Act). That is, they may ask individuals to incorporate (set up their own company) as a condition of getting a contract for work. Employers commit an offence by engaging in these arrangements.

Worker previously employed

AG Engineering enters into a new contract with a welder who was previously employed under a contract of service by the company to weld steel roofing frames.

Under the new arrangement, the welder provides substantially similar services as they did when working for AG Engineering, but provides those services on behalf of a separate company as a director or employee, working principally for AG Engineering. The work done is also directly part of the business of AG Engineering – that is, metal fabrication.

If an injury occurs, AG Engineering will be liable to pay the welder compensation and meet any return to work obligations.

Worker not previously employed

Morrissey Cleaners calls for tenders from incorporated companies to provide cleaning services to its clients. Morrissey Cleaners intimates that it is not responsible for workers’ compensation under the contractual arrangement for any company winning the tender for the contract.

An applicant, Mr Brookes, forms a company named PB Pty Ltd, registers himself as the director and PB Pty Ltd wins the contract. While the contract is in effect, Mr Brookes does work principally for Morrissey Cleaners – work that is directly a part of the business of Morrissey Cleaners – that is, industrial cleaning.

If an injury occurs, Morrissey Cleaners will be liable to pay Mr Brookes’ compensation and meet any return to work obligations.

Costs for engaging in an avoidance arrangement could include:

  • the employer being liable to pay workers’ compensation entitlements in accordance with the Act and meet return to work obligations if a worker is injured while working for an employer under an avoidance arrangement
  • a fine of $5000 for employers who allow workers to do work for them under an avoidance arrangement
  • a $2000 penalty may be applied to employers (or insurers) who receive money or indemnity from a worker (or the worker’s company) in respect of any compensation liability the employer has to pay.
Learn more about the penalties for non-compliance by viewing the prosecutions against non-compliant scheme participants.

Go to Prosecution results.