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Published: 12 October 2017
Author: Ross Inglis

Are casuals and workers on visas covered by WorkCover?

Given the reduction in the number of full time jobs, more and more people in industry and certainly in hospitality are working as casuals. Increasingly too, there are more and more people from overseas working in Australia on different types of visas.

The question asked by both categories of workers is: “If I’m hurt at work, will WorkCover cover me?”

Let’s have a look at these two cases.

Casuals and WorkCover

Many years ago, it wasn’t uncommon for someone to call and say that their employer had told them: “You are casual now, so you have to look after your own health if you’re hurt on the job.”

These days however, I think the myth that casuals somehow are not covered by WorkCover has been pretty much dispelled. I can't even recall in the last several years any employer saying to a worker “you're not entitled to compensation because you are casual".

The fact is that all casual workers enjoy exactly the same rights as any other employee, including those working full time and people working permanently.

Being a casual worker has no bearing on being able to make a WorkCover or injury claim, or receiving WorkCover benefits.

There are certainly more people employed on a casual basis in various industries, and in hospitality in particular, but they're definitely covered. So don’t let any employer tell you otherwise.

Workers on visas - does WorkCover cover them?

One of the issues that does arise however from time to time relates to people who are working here on visas.

Essentially, they are also covered. You don’t lose your rights because you happen to be working and here on a visa.

The only issue that might arise for someone who is injured while working here and when their visa runs out and therefore they are not allowed to stay. What then happens in relation to their WorkCover payments if they required to move back overseas?

That is a difficult issue where it is useful to seek legal advice, and certainly is possible to obtain ongoing payments, at least for a limited period of time, if you're forced to go back to your country of origin. We have also dealt with a case where a worker who was injured here while on a visa was granted a visa extension in order to have their injury treated further.

You also need to make arrangements with the WorkCover agent about how your return to your country of origin and the payment of items such as medical expenses and entitlements is to be dealt with. And that in part depends on the degree of the severity of the injury.

Every case is different and you need a lawyer to handle the problem for you. However, as the matter is a complex one, it requires expert legal advice.