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Shine Lawyers | Workers compensation and contractors and sole traders

Can I get workers compensation as a contractor or sole trader?


By 2020, there were nearly 1,000,000 independent contractors in Australia. As the number of contractors, sub-contractors and sole traders increases, it’s important workers are aware of their entitlements in case they are injured on the job.

What is the difference between a contractor and a sub-contractor?

A contractor is an individual or company that works directly with the client to complete a job, service or provide materials. A contractor can be a sole trader, if they are working as an individual, or they may work as part of their own company, partnership or trust.

A sub-contractor is another form of contractor — they are hired by a contractor, rather than dealing directly with the client.

Contractors and sub-contractors both have the right to a safe working environment.

Are you covered by workers compensation as a contractor or sub-contractor?

Most Australian employers are required to insure their employees through their state’s workers compensation scheme. Contractors and sub-contractors are usually considered workers when they are engaged to perform work on behalf of a business. This means they will generally need to be covered by a workers compensation policy by the principal employer.  

The contracting agreement should outline any additional insurance obligations on either the client or the contractor. For example, many clients require their contractors to be covered by a public liability insurance policy.

If you’ve been injured while working and are unsure of your entitlements, our workers compensation experts offer free consultations to discuss your situation. Contact us online to arrange your consultation.

Can you get WorkCover as a sole trader?

Sole traders can be considered employees for the purposes of workers compensation — the test is the same as for contractors or sub-contractors. Whether the sole trader works set hours, can work for other employers and whether they require a uniform are some of the relevant factors used to determine workers compensation eligibility.

Unsure of your rights? Contact Shine Lawyers

If you have been injured working and are unsure of your rights, our workers compensation experts can help. Our lawyers can explain your legal situation and help you claim compensation on a No Win No Fee basis*.

*Conditions apply

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Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: June 3, 2021.

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