Can casual workers claim compensation?Published on Posted on
Please note that this post was written for Queensland audiences and the information within may not apply to other regions.
Employing casual workers has become increasingly popular for many businesses, particularly in the retail and accommodation and food services industries.
Often the reasons include that they don’t have to pay the same employment benefits as full or part-time permanent staff. This includes sick or carers leave and annual leave.
Often casual workers think that because their employment status is different in these aspects, this also extends to workers’ compensation.
Rest assured that there are some important exceptions to the benefits casuals are entitled to, and that includes the right to claim workers’ compensation if a casual worker is injured on the job.
Can I claim workers’ compensation as a casual employee in Queensland?
WorkCover schemes in every state and territory require all “workers” regardless of employment status to be covered for work-related injuries or illnesses.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a casual worker in fast-food, a retail assistant, a support worker or you work in construction, you will be entitled to the same benefits as full and part-time workers as long as you meet the criteria for eligibility.
It’s important to know your rights and entitlements as a casual worker because while all employers are aware of them, it’s not unheard of for employers to say otherwise.
Do I need my employer’s permission to lodge a workers’ compensation claim?
No. You do not need your employer’s permission to lodge a workers’ compensation claim. You can lodge the paperwork yourself, or with a lawyer.
As stated above, you do need to make sure you tell your boss when you sustain an injury or illness.
This is because they do still have a legal obligation to notify their workers’ compensation insurer as soon as possible. Even if no one ends up making a claim.
It’s then up to the insurer to assess the claim determine the appropriate benefits to be paid to the injured worker.
What WorkCover benefits am I entitled to as a casual employee?
For casual workers, the statutory Work Cover entitlements are the same as for other workers. This includes medical expenses, rehabilitation costs and weekly payments for lost wages.
While there may be some differences in how these entitlements are calculated for casual workers, because casuals don’t have a set number of hours, entitlements and eligibility criteria are the same.
In addition to the general entitlements available to all workers. You may also be entitled to additional benefits if you can’t return to work because of your injury including a lump sum payment to compensate you for loss of future earning capacity.
And if someone else was at fault for your injury, you can also lodge a common law claim.
For example, the injury must have occurred while you were carrying out your duties as a casual employee. You must notify your employer of the injury or illness within the required time frame.
In saying all this, we are aware that not all employers follow the rules. Some aren’t always forthcoming about a casual worker’s entitlements.
Whether it may be because they’re simply unaware of their legal obligations, or because they’re trying to avoid having their business at the centre of a workplace injury investigation. It is important to understand your rights and seek legal advice if necessary.
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