In Victoria, there are occupational health and safety laws that protect employees, the self-employed and the general public from workplace injury or illness. This includes outworkers.


What is an outworker?

Outworkers are contractors or employees who perform their work at home or at a place that wouldn't normally be thought of as a business premises. Outworkers are common in the textile, clothing or footwear industry.

Source: Fair Work Ombudsman

Employer duties

Outworkers are employees under health and safety laws.

If you are an outworker, your employer is the person who gives you work, or at whose place you work. It is the employer's responsibility to make sure your workplace is safe, even if you have your own business or you work from home.

Some factors that employers need to consider in making a workplace safe and healthy are:

  • number of hours worked
  • work area
  • work set-up – tables/chairs and how work is laid out
  • manual handling, repetitive movement or use of force – lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving heavy items such as rolls of fabric
  • security
  • lighting
  • machines
  • noise
  • electricity
  • fire protection and escape routes.

Workers' compensation

If you become ill or are injured because of your work, you may be able to claim compensation to cover medical costs or lost income.

  1. Report your injury

Report any work-related injury or illness to your employer as soon as possible and no later than 30 days after becoming aware of it.

  1. Complete and submit a WorkCover Worker's Injury Form and provide a Certificate of Capacity

If you need time off work or medical treatment and want to claim WorkCover entitlements, you must complete a WorkCover Worker's Injury Claim Form and provide a WorkCover Certificate of Capacity. You can download the claim form below or alternatively they are available from post offices, WorkSafe agents or by calling the WorkSafe Advisory Service on 1800 136 089 or (03) 9641 1444. Please keep a copy of your claim form for your records.

By law, your employer cannot refuse to accept your claim application and they must advise you in writing that they have received it. They cannot fire you for making a claim.

Your employer has 10 days to forward your claim to their insurer and the insurer has 28 days to accept or reject it.

WorkCover insurance

Generally, if you are an employer who gives work to others or they work at your workplace, you need to take out WorkCover insurance and pay an annual premium. Otherwise you may face heavy penalties and you may have to pay the full cost of any claims for injuries or illness. Visit the 'Do I need to register for WorkCover insurance' page below for more information.

WorkSafe Advisory Service

WorkSafe's advisory service is available between 7:30am and 6:30pm Monday to Friday. If you need more support, you can also contact WorkSafe using the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) or the National Relay Service.

1800 136 089 More contact options

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