Types of workers and contractors for WorkCover insurance

On this page
  1. Contractors and workers
  2. Other types of workers (A-Z list)


If you're using contractors it's your responsibility to find out if they're considered workers by WorkSafe. This may effect your total remuneration – one of the factors that influences your premium. You may be liable if the contractor is injured while performing work for you.

Contractors can operate as sole proprietors, partnerships, companies or through family trusts. They can also refer to themselves as:

  • consultants
  • agents
  • outworkers.

Each time you hire a contractor you need to determine if they're considered a 'worker' by WorkSafe – if so, you become their employer for WorkCover insurance purposes and you must include the money you pay them in your total remuneration. The worker and contractor assessment tool [this link will take you to the old website] will help you understand if your contractors are workers.

Contractual relationships before July 2011

Before 1 July 2011 the tests to determine if a contractor is the worker of the hirer were different. If you have have a contractual arrangement with a contractor that existed before July 2011 you can refer to the contractor guidelines publication.

Other types of workers (A-Z list)

Victorian workers compensation legislation states that individuals are considered workers in certain types of occupations or industries.

  • Apprentices and trainees

    If you hire any apprentices or trainees – even if you only hire one – you must be registered for WorkCover insurance no matter what your rateable remuneration is.

    Remuneration exemptions

    Some apprentice and trainee remuneration is exempt from WorkCover insurance so you need to be aware of the restrictions and qualifications. Remuneration is exempt if the apprentice or trainee:

    • is an apprentice or trainee within the meaning of the Education & Training Reform Act 2006
    • has entered into an authorised training agreement with an employer
    • has not worked for their current or a 'former employer' for the two year period before the commencement of the training agreement unless all the following conditions are met:
      • it was for no more than 12 months in total
      • it was for no more than 3 months full-time
      • if the person worked under a previous training agreement with their current or a 'former employer', then the gap between the current agreement and the previous agreement must be less than three months.

    Apprentice and trainee remuneration is exempt under Ministerial Declaration – Government Gazette 23, 9 June 2016, on page 1376).

    Trainee remuneration threshold

    A cap has been placed on trainee remuneration that means you can only claim an exemption for your trainee's remuneration if it is:

    • $36,070 or less in 2010/11
    • $38,520 or less in 2011/12
    • $39,870 or less in 2012/13
    • $40,920 or less in 2013/14
    • $42,540 or less in 2014/15 and 2015/16
    • $42,920 or less in 2016/17.
    • $44,420 or less in 2017/18.

    If your trainee's annualised remuneration was more than this amount none of their remuneration would be exempt.

    If your trainee's annualised remuneration for 2016/17 is $42,920 or less, all existing rules (noted previously) must still be met to claim an exemption.

    This rule does not apply to apprentices you may engage, there is no exemption threshold on apprentice remuneration.

    Visit the Department of Education for a related list of apprenticeship and traineeship qualifications.

  • Commonwealth Green Corps and Special Employer Support programs

    If a person is a participant in the Commonwealth Green Corps program or the Commonwealth Special Employer Support program, then while participating in the program the provider of that program is deemed to be the employer of the participant for WorkSafe purposes; and the training allowance payable to the participant in that program is deemed to be remuneration for WorkCover insurance purposes.

  • Crown employees

    You're a worker of the Crown for WorkCover insurance if you are:

    • responsible Minister of the Crown
    • a member of the Legislative Council or the Legislative Assembly
    • a person holding any judicial or other office to which the person is appointed by the Governor in Council
    • a bail justice
    • any person being the holder of any office as member of any public corporation, institution or body or of the governing body thereof
    • a member of police personnel within the meaning of the Police Regulation Act 1958 in respect of the exercise and performance of the powers and duties as such a member, whether arising at common law or under any statute by the instructions of superiors or otherwise.
  • Door to door sellers

    A door-to-door seller performing work under a selling arrangement is not a worker of the hirer/vendor for WorkCover insurance purposes unless WorkSafe determines that that arrangement has been entered into with an intention of directly or indirectly avoiding or evading the payment of WorkSafe premium.

    For WorkCover insurance purposes a door-to-door seller is someone who is engaged by a hirer/vendor under a contract or selling arrangement where all of these conditions apply:

    1. the seller is engaged:
      • to sell goods door-to-door, or
      • to party plan on-sell goods, or
      • sell services ancillary to the sale or on-sale of goods referred to in either point above
    2. the seller is engaged in the sale or on-sale of goods including all moveable personal property other than money or livestock and including any removable fixtures of real estate; but not including services provided to any personal property or fixtures of real estate, for example, cladding and painting
    3. the seller does not sell or on-sell goods to a body corporate
    4. the seller is not an employee, but has an agency arrangement for the door-to-door sale or on-sale of goods directly to the public
    5. the sale or on-sale of goods by the seller takes place either at a customer's residence, or at the customer's place of work, or elsewhere than at the vendor's trade premises or a place where goods of that sort are normally offered for sale
    6. where the sale by the seller is made away from the vendor's trade premises, this cannot have been made as a consequence of the request of the customer or the agent of the customer
    7. the original approach (that is, the initial physical attendance, not a telephone contact) leading to the sale must not be made at the vendor's premises
    8. the sales made by the seller are either cash sales or credit sales but not sales on a monthly credit arrangement
    9. goods purchased from the seller must be used by the purchaser solely for domestic purposes and must not include goods purchased to be further processed in the course of manufacture or goods purchased for commercial or industrial purposes
    10. the seller must personally organise the direct sale of the goods to the end users of the goods.
  • Interstate workers

    Each State in Australia is a different jurisdiction for workers' compensation purposes. If a worker performs work for their employer in more than one State there may be some uncertainty as to which jurisdiction determines the workers' compensation rights and responsibilities and where the employer is required to hold workers' compensation insurance to cover their workers.

    There is also uncertainty in relation to workers' compensation insurance coverage when a worker performs work overseas for their employer or when a worker comes from overseas to work in Australia for their employer.

    Working in another state or territory within Australia

    When a worker is required to work in more than one state or territory there will be only one jurisdiction in Australia that determines the applicable workers' compensation rights and responsibilities for the arrangement; in other words, a worker will always be connected to one state or territory.

    To identify the applicable jurisdiction, WorkSafe Victoria, along with the Authorities responsible for workers' compensation insurance in the other Australian states and territories, have developed guidelines to assist employers identify where their obligations for insurance exist.

    Read the interstate workers guideline.

    The applicable jurisdiction determines the employer's obligation to obtain, or register, for workers' compensation insurance. It will also determine the workers' compensation entitlements for the worker if the worker sustains a work related injury in the arrangement.

    Employers and workers are encouraged to contact the relevant jurisdictions as part of the process of determining which jurisdiction applies to their particular arrangement.

    Workers working overseas

    When a Victorian worker, is required to perform work overseas for their employer then the issue of their coverage arises. If a Victorian worker is injured while working overseas they have the same entitlement to compensation from their employer's WorkCover insurance that they would if they were injured in Victoria.

    Even when the worker is performing work in an overseas jurisdiction and they remain "connected" to their employer's Victorian WorkCover insurance the employer should check to identify if they will have any workers' compensation insurance obligations specific to the jurisdiction the worker is in.

    If a Victorian employer hires a worker to work for them in an overseas jurisdiction, or jurisdictions, and they do not perform work for them in Victoria (either before or after their overseas work), then they will not be covered by the employer's Victorian WorkCover insurance. Employers that hire workers to work for them overseas should establish their workers' compensation insurance obligations with the relevant authority.

    Workers from overseas working in Victoria

    Where an employer that is based overseas sends a worker from their overseas location to perform work for them in Victoria the interstate workers test should be used to identify if they will be recognised as a Victorian worker for the duration that they will be working in Victoria. If the test identifies the worker as a Victorian worker the employer may have an obligation to register for WorkCover insurance. This remains the case if the overseas worker is working at the workplace of a client, a host employer, or a related company while working in Victoria.

    If a Victorian employer is "hosting" a worker from overseas, because they are providing services to them under a contractual arrangement; they are working collaboratively with them; or they are the worker of a parent company or other related entity, the workers' compensation insurance obligation will remain with their employer.

    If a Victorian employer hires a worker from overseas to work for them in Victoria, or in another Australian state or territory, the employer should refer to the interstate workers guideline to determine the appropriate jurisdiction where coverage obligations may exist.

    For specific enquiries relating to workers working in more than one state or territory, or for workers working overseas or coming from overseas contact WorkSafe on 1800 136 089 (toll free) or email premium@worksafe.vic.gov.au.

  • Labour hire

    If your business provides labour or on-hire services, the insurance premium you pay will be largely based on each of your registered clients or on-hire workplaces.

    The premium will be calculated using your employer performance rating and the industry rate for each of these workplaces. This provides a greater incentive for labour hire employers to improve workplace health and safety for their workers.

    What you need to do
    1. Supply the following details to your WorkSafe Agent in advance of each new workers' compensation policy commencing:
      • The legal name and business name of each on-hire client
      • The address of each on-hire client
      • Your head office address
    2. Upon receipt of these details, your WorkSafe Agent will advise you of the appropriate industry classification to help you calculate your remuneration
    3. When you know the classification, you must advise your WorkSafe Agent of the client's workplaces and the relevant remuneration
    4. Your WorkSafe Agent will register these on-hire workplaces to your WorkCover insurance
    5. Once your WorkSafe Agent has recorded all the relevant information, they can provide an estimate of total premium payable for the coming period.

    View the list of labour hire organisations in the Victorian public register

    Read guidance and information about labour hire.

  • Ministers, preachers or leaders of religious organisations

    If by Order in Council published in the Government Gazette (at the request of a religious body or organisation specified in the Order as having made the request), the Governor in Council declares that persons within a class specified in the Order, who are not otherwise workers for WorkCover insurance purposes are workers of that body or organisation, then for WorkCover insurance purposes, the specified persons within the class will be treated as workers employed by the religious body or organisation; and such amounts as are determined by agreement between WorkSafe and the religious body or organisation are remuneration.

    Read the court ruling about whether ministers of religion can be workers.

  • Municipal councillors

    A Municipal Councillor, while carrying out their duties as a Councillor, is recognised as a worker by Victorian workers compensation legislation; and the Council of which the Councillor is a member is, while they are carrying out duties as a Councillor, their employer.

  • Outworkers

    Outwork means contract work that involves packing, processing or work on articles or material in the clothing industry. This work must be performed outside the hirer's factory or workshop and in or about a private residence or other premises that are not necessarily business or commercial premises.

    If an outworker enters into a contract with a hirer other than the outworker's family business, then as long as the outworker performs some of the outwork personally, the outworker is a worker of the hirer for WorkCover insurance purposes.

    If a family business enters into a contract with a hirer to perform outwork then each person engaged by the family business to perform the outwork under that contract is a worker of the hirer for WorkCover insurance purposes.

  • Owner drivers

    Owner drivers operating as sole traders or partnerships are workers of their hirer (the courier or transport company they work for) unless WorkSafe determines they are carrying on an independent business or trade.

    Incorporated owner drivers are not deemed workers of their hirer and are responsible for their own WorkCover insurance.

    Read the owner driver guideline.

  • Riders and harness drivers

    If a person is engaged to participate as a rider in a horse race conducted as part of a race meeting held under Racing Victoria's 'Rules of Racing'; or if a person other than an apprentice or the owner or trainer of the horse to be ridden, holds a licence, permit or approval to ride granted in accordance with the 'Rules of Racing' and they agrees to do 'ride work' on a horse at any racecourse or training track or in the environs of a racecourse or training track, then for WorkCover insurance purposes, that person shall be treated as a worker solely employed by Racing Victoria while participating as a rider or doing riding work. Any amounts paid to the person in respect of so participating or doing shall be remuneration.

    If a person is engaged to participate as a rider in a horse or pony race; or a driver in a harness race – conducted as part of a mixed sports gathering within the meaning of the Racing Act 1958 and held in accordance with section 19 of the Racing Act 1958, for WorkCover insurance purposes, while that person is participating, they shall be treated as a worker of the club, association or body of persons holding the mixed sports gathering; and amounts paid or payable to the person are remuneration.

  • Secretaries of co-operative housing societies and co-operatives

    If the secretary of a co-operative housing society within the meaning of the Co-operative Housing Societies Act 1958 or a co-operative within the meaning of the Co-operatives Act 1996 is entitled to be paid more than $400 per annum then the secretary is a worker of the co-operative housing society or the co-operative for WorkCover insurance purposes. For WorkSafe premium purposes the amount (other than in respect of expenses) paid or payable to the secretary is remuneration.

  • Sharefarmers

    When there is a arrangement between the owner of the land and an individual (the sharefarmer) whereby the sharefarmer is entitled to receive a share of the income derived from the land (either in cash or in kind) in exchange for their work on that land the sharefarmer may be the worker of the land owner.

    For the sharefarmer to be the worker of the land owner they must be entitled to receive less than one third of the income derived from the land or the written sharefarming agreement must state that the land owner is liable for the sharefarmer in the event that they are injured out of or in the course of the sharefarming work (for instance, under Victorian workers compensation legislation).

    Read the sharefarmer guideline for more information.

  • Sporting contestants

    If a person is engaged by an employer to participate as a contestant in a sporting or athletic activity (not in relation to section 19 of the Racing Act), then the person will not be treated as a worker for WorkCover insurance purposes while they are participating as a contestant in a sporting or athletic activity; or engaged in training or preparation for the contest; or travelling between a place of residence and the place at which the person is so participating or so engaged.

  • Students undertaking work experience
    Secondary school students

    If a student at a school is placed with an employer for work experience; and the principal of the school has made a work experience arrangement with the employer in accordance with the Education and Training Reform Act 2006, then while undertaking the work experience the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development is deemed to be the employer of that student for WorkSafe purposes and the amount paid to be remuneration for WorkCover insurance purposes

    Post-secondary TAFE students

    If a post-secondary student of a TAFE provider is placed with an employer for work experience or on the job training; and the governing body of the TAFE provider has entered into a 'practical placement agreement' with the employer about the placement of that student in accordance with the Education and Training Reform Act 2006, then while employed under the agreement the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development is deemed to be the employer of that student for WorkCover insurance purposes; and the amount paid or payable to the student for work under the agreement is deemed to be remuneration for WorkCover insurance purposes.

    Undergraduate and Post-graduate students

    University students or students studying university-level qualifications that are undertaking work placements, work experience, clinical research, research based in a workplace as part of their qualification or course of study may not be recognised as workers by the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Act. For advice on a case-by-case basis please contact premium@worksafe.vic.gov.au.

  • Taxi drivers

    When a person has the use of a motor vehicle (the driver) under a contract of bailment with another person (the operator) and they (the driver) use the vehicle to carry passengers for reward and they (the driver) are required under the contract to make payments to the operator for the use of the motor vehicle, then the operator is deemed to be the employer of the driver for WorkCover insurance purposes.

    If the operator is deemed to be the employer of the driver, then the amount received by the driver for carrying passengers, less the amount paid or payable to the operator for the use of the motor vehicle must be declared as rateable remuneration by the operator for WorkCover insurance purposes.

  • Timber contractors

    A timber contractor is an individual who is engaged by a hirer and agrees to undertake all or any of the following activities under a timber contract:

    • Fell trees and deliver the timber to the hirer;
    • Cut firewood and deliver the firewood to the hirer;
    • Fell trees or cut shrub on land of which the hirer is the occupier;
    • Clear stumps or logs from land of which the hirer is the occupier;
    • Remove stumps or logs, whether by loading them onto a vehicle or otherwise.

    A timber contractor is a worker of a hirer where they:

    • are engaged in the course of or for the purposes of a trade or business undertaken by the hirer;
    • are a natural person or a partner in a partnership; and
    • agree to undertake work for the hirer under a timber contract.

    A timber contractor is not a worker where the timber contractor:

    • subcontracts the timber contract in its entirety;
    • does not personally perform any work under the timber contract and employs or engages persons to perform all of the work under the timber contract; or
    • is a partner in a partnership of two or more individuals and no part of the work under the timber contract is performed personally by any member of the partnership.

    Where a timber contractor is taken to be a worker, the amount paid or payable by the hirer to the timber contractor for the performance of work, less the applicable standard deduction, is considered to be remuneration for WorkCover insurance premium purposes.

    If a timber contractor working as a tree feller provides his or her own materials or equipment, and does not purchase such materials or equipment from the hirer, a standard deduction of 25% is applicable where the total amount paid by the hirer includes amounts in respect of those materials or that equipment.

  • Workers obtained from places of pick up

    If a person is ordinarily engaged in any employment that involves persons customarily attending certain pre-arranged places (places of pick-up) where employers select and engage persons for employment then any such person shall be deemed, while in attendance a place of pick-up for the purpose of being selected, to be working under a contract of employment with an employer, and the employer who last employed that person in customary employment is deemed to be their employer.

Related tasks and documents