Classifying workers or contractors for workers insurance purposes

Make sure your business has the right kind of cover by correctly identifying which workers need coverage by your policy.

As an employer, you have a duty to protect your business and staff. You must declare wages for all relevant workers, using the legislative definition of 'workers'. You can find out what is included as wages on our declaring wages page.

Some people are 'deemed' to be workers for workers compensation insurance purposes.

To understand your legal obligations, use the definitions and guidelines below.

Identifying 'deemed' workers

These classes of 'deemed workers' include, but are not limited to:

  • outworkers
  • salespersons, canvassers, and collectors
  • contractors under labour hire service arrangements
  • rural workers
  • boxers, wrestlers, referees and entertainers.

See Schedule 1 of the Workplace Injury Management and Workers Compensation Act 1998 for a comprehensive list.

Distinguish a worker from a contractor

Other than deemed workers, you are not required to provide workers compensation insurance for contractors.

Several factors separate a worker from a contractor. No single factor is decisive.

A contractor is more likely to:

  • be engaged to carry out a particular task using their own skill and judgment
  • employ others, delegate or sub-let work to another
  • be paid on the basis of a quotation for the job
  •  supply their own tools and materials
  • carry on an independent business in their own name or under a business or firm name.

Please note: An ABN by itself is not a definite indicator of a person(s) status.

A worker is more likely to:

  • be directed by the employer regarding work to be performed and the time and manner in which it is performed
  • be required to actually carry out the work
  • be paid on a time basis
  • have tools and materials supplied by the employer
  • work exclusively for a single employer
  • be affected by PAYG tax arrangements.

Please note: A person may have been hired as a contractor and be a contractor for other purposes such as tax, but still be a worker for the purpose of workers compensation insurance. The status of a person for tax purposes bears no direct relationship to that person's status as a worker for workers compensation insurance purposes.

SIRA’s Worker or Contractor tool

The State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) has a tool to help guide you as to whether a person is a worker, a deemed worker or contractor for workers compensation insurance purposes. 

Worker or Contractor tool


Volunteers and unpaid work experience students are not 'workers' under the Workers Compensation Act 1987 and you do not need to cover them with your workers compensation insurance policy. You still have a 'duty of care' to make sure volunteers and work experience students have a safe working environment.

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