Money / Financial management

Don’t have Worker’s Compensation insurance? Not very smart

Getting someone in to help your business on a casual or invoice basis sounds tempting; no strings, no paperwork. But beware as there are some serious pitfalls.

30 October 2016 by

A friend recently shared a story about her son-in-law George*, who was completing odd jobs under an invoice arrangement as a ‘contractor’. This work was completed on a regular basis.

While he was on his employer’s property, on one of his employer’s motorbikes completing a task, he had a serious accident. He destroyed his shoulder and has been unable to work for eight weeks.

As if that was not bad enough, the employer had no Worker’s Compensation insurance (which is mandatory). Because George can’t work, he is now ‘out of pocket’ financially. The Government does have a scheme to protect employees where employers have not insured themselves, but George is too worried to activate this for fear of loss of potential future work – so he has stayed silent.

"Currently in Australia, a worker dies somewhere, every single day – at work."

Currently, in Australia, a worker dies somewhere, every single day, at work. This statistic is frightening but made worse by the fact that many employees are in a similar position to George and are dealing not only with no income but also significant medical bills.

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Here are the lessons soloists need to learn from this example:

  1. Worker’s Compensation insurance is mandatory – make sure if you’re hiring ‘contractors’, that you have it. (Also, if you are providing contract services to someone, make sure they have it!)
  2. Ensure that you are aware of your legal obligations around providing ‘a safe place to work’
  3. Have a Workplace Health & Safety (WH&S) policy, Incident Register and complete a Risk Assessment.
  4. Train any employees you may have so that they are aware of their obligations around WH&S.
  5. Remember – you have ‘duty of care’ obligations so get educated.

Not adhering to the Workplace Health & Safety legislations – at its extreme, carries jail time. So it’s worth getting this right.

 

*Not his real name

Natasha Hawker

helps SMEs understand the challenges their businesses face and unlocks the mysteries of effective HR. She is the co-owner of Employee Matters and author of From Hire to Fire: Everything in Between".

Comments

  • A good brief article Natasha – well done
    One small caveat for NSW employers is the waiver for those with annual wages less than $7,500. Very handy if you are a soloist with just a casual helper – or a homeowner with a gardener or cleaner. Just remember that if you operate under a Company or Trust then your own earnings are included so you will probably need a policy 🙁

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