If you are a casual employee and have been injured at work, you may be wondering, am I covered by workers compensation? It’s a very common question and it makes sense because there are currently 2.7 million casual employees in Australia today, accounting for one-quarter of Australian employees.
The short answer is yes, all casual workers are covered by Workers Compensation in NSW. Unfortunately, many casual employees do not know they are entitled to workers compensation and just deal with the injury.
In this article, we’ll be covering the following:
- What exactly is a casual employee in NSW
- A quick overview of Workers Compensation
- Whether casual employees are eligible for Workers Compensation
- What entitlements are available to casual employees and how they are calculated
- The steps in claiming workers compensation for casual employees
Definition of a casual employee
A casual employee, in the context of Australia and New South Wales (NSW), is an individual who is engaged by an employer on an irregular or ‘as needed’ basis. According to the Fair Work Ombudsman, casual employees are defined as employees who have no guaranteed hours of work, usually work irregular hours, and can be terminated without notice.
A quick look into Workers Compensation in NSW
The workers compensation system in NSW is designed to protect and support employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses. It provides income replacement, covers medical expenses, and offers lump sum payments for permanent impairments. This system ensures that injured workers receive the necessary benefits to aid in their recovery and maintain their livelihood.
Eligibility for workers compensation for casual employees
To be eligible for workers compensation in New South Wales (NSW), an employee must meet certain specific requirements. These criteria ensure that workers receive the necessary support and benefits if they become injured or sick due to work-related reasons.
There are two main criteria you need to meet to be eligible for workers compensation in NSW:
- You must be a Worker as defined in the Workplace Injury Management and Workers Compensation Act 1998
- The injury or illness you sustained arises out of the employment and was sustained in the course of employment
Casual employees fall under the definition of a Worker as per the Workers Compensation Act 1998. However, one exception is that it does not include casual employees who have only been employed for 1 period that isn’t more than 5 working days.
Ticking off the first criterion, if a casual employee can prove that employment was a substantial contributing factor then they will be eligible to make a workers compensation claim.
What should you do if you’re injured at work as a casual employee?
If you’re injured at work as a casual worker, there are several important steps you should take to ensure you receive the necessary support and compensation.
Report your injury to your employer
Firstly, it’s vital to report the injury to your employer as soon as possible it is required by the NSW Workers Compensation scheme to report the injury within 48 hours of the incident. This should be done in writing and include details of the incident, when and where it occurred, and any witnesses present.
Seek medical attention from your doctor
Next, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention from a doctor or healthcare professional. Even if the injury seems minor, it’s important to have it properly assessed and documented. Your doctor will be able to issue you a Certificate of Capacity which is a crucial element of your workers compensation claim.
Lodge your workers compensation claim
Finally, lodge a workers’ compensation claim with your employer’s insurer. This claim should include all relevant details of the injury and be submitted within the specified timeframe. By lodging a claim, you can access the various benefits and support provided by the workers’ compensation scheme, such as medical expenses, weekly payments, and rehabilitation assistance.
If you’re unsure about any of the steps or require legal advice, it may be beneficial to consult an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer who can guide you through the process and ensure your rights are protected.
For more in-depth information around this process, make sure you visit our guide on How to Lodge a Workers Compensation Claim in NSW.
What Workers Compensation benefits are available to casual employees?
Casual employees in NSW can receive workers’ compensation benefits if they get injured at work. These benefits include weekly compensation payments, coverage for medical expenses, and potential lump sum payments for long-term disability.
Weekly payments & Medical Expenses as part of an ongoing recovery period
Casual employees in New South Wales (NSW) are eligible to receive weekly payments and have their medical expenses covered as part of an ongoing recovery period under the workers’ compensation scheme.
The weekly payments are calculated based on the average weekly earnings of the casual employee during the 12 months prior to the injury. The payment is generally 95% of the average earnings for the first 13 weeks, and then 80% thereafter, subject to a maximum amount set by NSW legislation.
To learn more about weekly payments, make sure you read our Weekly Payments guide for Workers Compensation.
Medical expenses that can be covered under workers’ compensation include doctor’s visits, hospital stays, prescribed medications, medical examinations, and rehabilitation services. Examples of covered medical expenses may include consultations with specialists, physiotherapy sessions, X-rays, and surgeries.
It is important for casual employees to keep all receipts and medical certificates related to their treatment, as these documents may be required to support their claim for compensation. By keeping accurate records, casual employees can ensure that they receive the financial and medical support they are entitled to during their ongoing recovery period.
You can read more about medical reimbursements in our Workers Compensation payout guide.
Lump sum payments for permanent injuries/illnesses and work injury damages
Lump sum payments for permanent injuries/illnesses and work injury damages are available under the workers’ compensation scheme in New South Wales (NSW). These payments provide compensation to injured workers for the permanent impairment they have suffered as a result of a work-related injury or illness.
To be eligible for a lump sum payment for permanent impairment you must:
- You must have a whole person impairment rating of 11% for physical injuries or more (15% for psychological injuries)
On the other hand, work injury damages refer to a common law claim for damages that can be made by workers who have sustained a significant permanent impairment and can demonstrate negligence on the part of their employer. Work injury damages allow injured workers to claim for economic loss, past and future medical expenses, and future care costs.
To be eligible for work injury damages under common law you must:
- Show that your injury was a result of your employer’s negligence
- You must have a permanent impairment rating of more than 15%
- You must have received all statutory lump sum entitlements for your permanent impairment. These must be settled before you can claim workplace negligence damages.
How do I calculate my Workers Compensation benefits as a casual?
As a casual worker, the hours you work are irregular and not guaranteed, which means calculating your compensation payouts may be slightly different to how it is calculated for permanent employees.
There are two different scenarios that affect the way your Workers compensation is calculated as a casual employee, which is whether you’ve been employed for less than or more than 12 months.
If you have been employed for less than 12 months
If you have been employed for less than 12 months, the calculation of your entitlements is slightly different. To determine your average number of hours worked each week since you started work, you will need to consider all the hours worked.
To calculate this average, add up the total number of hours worked for all employers since you started employment and divide it by the number of weeks you have been employed. This will give you the average number of hours worked per week and will help determine how much compensation is entitled to you via weekly payments.
Remember, even if you have been employed for less than 12 months, you still have the right to claim for workers compensation if you have suffered a work-related injury. It is important to seek legal advice from an experienced workers compensation lawyer to understand your rights and the options available to you.
If you have been employed for more than 12 months
To determine your entitlements, the calculation of your replacement income via weekly payments will be based on the average number of hours you have worked per week over the last 52 weeks. Alongside your weekly payments for lost of income, you may also be covered for medical and rehabilitation expenses where necessary.
Will I be fired for claiming workers compensation as a casual employee
As a casual employee, you may have concerns about being fired if you need to make a workers compensation claim. Fortunately, there are legal protections in place to prevent this from happening.
Under Section 248 of the Workers Compensation Act 1987 (NSW), your employer is unable to terminate you whilst you are on workers compensation for 6 months from when your injury occurred. This means that your employer cannot fire you simply because you have sought compensation for a work-related injury.
Our article “Can I be terminated while on Workers Compensation” dives into this topic in much more depth.
Speak to an expert Workers Compensation Lawyer today
If you are a casual employee in New South Wales (NSW) seeking workers compensation, don’t be afraid to seek expert legal advice from Workers Compensation Lawyers. Just because you are a casual employee does not mean you are not entitled to Workers Compensation for your work related injury.
At Alliance Compensation & Litigation Lawyers, we can help you understand your rights and entitlements as a casual employee. This can include weekly payments to cover your loss of income, reimbursement of medical expenses, and even lump sum payments for permanent impairment.