Are you liable for a private contractor's injuries?


Are you liable for a private contractor's injuries?

What are your obligations if an independent contractor is injured at your workplace. Gaby Grammeno explains.


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What are our obligations if a private contractor is injured at our workplace?

This question was recently sent to our Ask an Expert service.

Q If an independent contractor is injured at our workplace, what are our obligations in terms of workers compensation? Are we required to provide work following return from injury?

A Employers have workers compensation obligations towards their own employees and also towards some independent contractors who would be considered ‘deemed workers’ or ‘deemed employees’ for purposes of workers’ compensation.

The laws on injury management and workers’ compensation in each state and territory define who exactly is a ‘worker’ for the purposes of the Act, and may also set out categories of persons who are specifically included or excluded under the legislation.

The courts use various tests of the relationship between an employer and a worker to distinguish between independent contractors who are ‘deemed workers’ and those who are not. For example, if a contractor is directed by an employer as to the time and manner of the performance of the work, has tools and materials supplied by the employer, works exclusively for the employer and is paid on a time basis, the person may be considered a ‘deemed worker’. Therefore, the employer would have workers compensation and injury management obligations towards that person.

Each state and territory regulator for workers compensation and injury management provides information on employers’ obligations in these matters. In New South Wales, for example, the state regulator – icare – provides guidance on classifying workers or contractors for workers’ compensation insurance on its website.

To answer this question definitively would depend on: the details of the relationship and interaction with the independent contractor; the nature of the person’s work; and what state or territory legislation applies at the workplace.

Employers can receive clarification from their state/territory regulator over the phone, or legal advice may be required. 

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