The benefits of being classified as a ‘worker’ during times of injury.
There has been a lot of media attention in recent months concerning the lack of protections afforded to those who work in the ridesharing and food delivery industry who are classed as 'contractors' for employment purposes. In many instances these contractors are not entitled to an award (or 'minimum') wage nor are they entitled to claim benefits under the workers compensation legislation if they are injured on the job.
In NSW, workers who suffer an injury arising from or in the course of employment are entitled to benefits. The precise nature of these benefits vary depending on the type of claim and the severity of the injury, however they might include:
- * Weekly payments;
- * Medical treatment and related expenses;
- * Permanent Impairment lump sum;
- * Work injury damages;
- * Domestic assistance; and
- * Death benefits.
Independent contractors, on the other hand, are not entitled to any of these benefits an employee takes for granted and in times of injury may find themselves facing severe financial hardship if they are unable to work, likely facing large medical bills and long waits on the public health system if they do not have appropriate insurances.
As such it is very important that 'workers' know whether they are an employee or an independent contractor& if the latter that theyconsider obtaining private income protection&/or Total and Permanent Disablement cover &/or private health insurance.
There have been calls for the state government to recognise 'dependant contractors' as a new class of worker but it would be foolish to assume that the Government will readily agree to expand the statutory definition to better meet the reality of the modern employment & industrial landscape.
Author: Rachael Watson
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