Compliance at a glance - Workers compensation and return to work

Do I need a workers’ compensation insurance policy and a workplace rehabilitation policy and procedures?

If you employ workers, you must have a current workers’ compensation insurance policy. It is also advisable to have an effective return to work program to ensure that your workers receive the appropriate assistance in returning to their normal duties in the event of a workplace injury or illness.

You are an employer for workers compensation purposes if you employ a person who is defined as a worker under the Return to Work Act 1986.

A worker is a natural person who, performs work or a service of any kind for another person under a contract and is in relation to the contract and employee for the purpose of assessment for PAYG withholding under the 'Taxation Administration Act 1953 (Cth)', Schedule 1, Parts 2-5, even if the employer is not withholding tax when they should be.

Individual contractors employed by you are also workers unless the person:

  • is paid to achieve a specific result or outcome; and
  • has to supply plant, and equipment or tools of trade, needed to perform the work or service; and
  • is, or would be liable for the cost of rectifying any defect arising out of the work or service performed

Or, the person has a personal services business determination in effect under section 87-60 of the Income Assessment Act 1997 (Cth).

An on line tool is available on the ATO website to assist employers to find out whether your worker is an employee or contractor for tax and super purposes. If your business engages and pays workers, you should use this decision tool.

Workers Compensation and return to work obligations

As part of your workers compensation and return to work obligations, you must:

  • have a current workers compensation insurance policy that covers all your workers
  • submit claim forms to your insurance provider within three days of receiving them from an injured worker
  • make workers compensation payments to your injured workers as instructed by your insurer
  • take all reasonable steps to make suitable duties available to your injured workers
  • keep a record of your wages for the past seven years

Complete the Compliance at a glance – How do you rate checklist first before checking your answers against the green, orange and red sections below.

  • …your workers are not covered for workers compensation insurance.

    Ticks in the red zone indicate that you need to take immediate action to obtain a workers compensation insurance policy.

    How do I notify?To report any work related injury or illness please call 1800 019 115 or to access more information on workers compensation please call 1800 250 713 or visit
    Where do I obtain a workers’ compensation insurance policy?

    In the Northern Territory, your workers compensation insurance policy can only be offered by an approved insurer.

    They are:

    • Allianz Australia Insurance - phone: (08) 8982 8333
    • CGU Workers’ Compensation - phone: (08) 8924 0300
    • GIO General Ltd - phone: (08) 6188 0990
    • QBE Insurance (Australia) Ltd - phone: (08) 8982 3877
    • Territory Insurance Office (TIO) - phone: (08) 8982 8333
    How do I obtain a workers’ compensation insurance policy?

    To obtain a policy, you must provide the following information to your insurer:

    • registered business name
    • registered business address
    • workplace address (if different)
    • ACN and/or ABN
    • description of your business including industry and types of occupation of your workforce
    • estimate of your total wages for the policy period
    • total number of workers, including permanents and casuals
    • estimate of payments to contractors.
    What is a return to work plan?

    The return to work plan assists injured workers in returning to work after injury. Although workers may have medical restrictions and may be unable to perform their pre-injury jobs, they can often do modified or alternate work while recovering.

    The plan formalises suitable employment offered by the employer in line with the injured workers statement of fitness for work.

    It is designed to make clear what the worker can and cannot do when they return to work, and when this will be reviewed.

    The employer should not speculate, make assumptions and / or presume a doctor’s role. Regard should be had to the injured worker's statement of fitness for work. Any medical restrictions should be taken into account.

    It is extremely important that the employer works in collaboration with the injured worker when developing the plan. For a successful return to work the injured worker should be consulted and their input included in the plan.

    Physical restrictions, suitable duties, hours worked, supervision arrangements must be clearly outlined in the plan and must be regularly monitored and reviewed. Treatment times and dates may need to be considered in the plan.

    The plan must be developed and agreed to by the worker and the employer and both must sign the plan.

  • … you have a workers compensation insurance policy, and a return work plan in place but your policy does not reflect the true nature of your business and your return to work plan is ineffective.

    Ticks in the orange zone indicate that you are partially compliant but you may need to update your workers compensation coverage with your insurance provider and review your return to work program.

    For assistance, contact your insurance provider and provide them with details about your current business activities, the number of workers and your estimated wages for the current workers compensation policy period.

    Also, discuss and review with your insurance provider your return to work plans to ensure that:

    • your return to work plan is up-to-date and working effectively
    • appropriate duties are made available to injured workers.
  • … you have an appropriate workers compensation insurance policy and an effective injury reporting system and return to work plan.

    Ticks in the green zone indicate that you are compliant with your obligations regarding workers compensation insurance and have an effective return to work plan.
    However, you would be well-advised to:

    • monitor your workers compensation insurance policy details and ensure that your insurance provider is advised of any significant changes to details regarding your business activities, number of workers, or estimated wages.
    • monitor and review your return to work plans on a regular basis with your insurance provider to ensure they are still working to provide effective assistance to your injured workers in returning them to their normal workplace duties.