COVID-19 FAQs

The following frequently asked questions (FAQs) aim to help you with any general questions you may have in regards to the coronavirus (COVID-19) around workers compensation.  Use of the term ‘the Act’ throughout the FAQs refers to the Return to Work Act 1986.

If after reading these FAQs you still have specific personal questions, please contact NT WorkSafe, your employer or your insurer.

FAQ's for workers

  • Workers compensation would not cover your wages during self-isolation unless you are subsequently diagnosed with COVID-19 and can establish that your employment was the real, proximate or effective cause of you contracting the virus.

    Self-isolation does not mean a person is suffering from an injury or disease.

    Each claim for COVID 19 would need to be considered on its individual merits, taking into account individual circumstances and evidence.

  • No. Workers compensation is only payable in connection with an accepted or deferred claim, where a worker has incapacity in respect of a work related injury or disease.

    Please discuss your leave options with your employer if you are required/instructed to stay at home due to COVID-19.

  • As with all workers compensation claims, a claim will need to be lodged with your employer.

    For workers to lodge a claim for COVID-19, the insurer will require:

    • Completed workers compensation claim form
    • A current statement of fitness for work issued by a medical practitioner that provides the medical assessment and diagnosis
    • Evidence to demonstrate that your COVID-19 exposure occurred within your work environment and that your employment was the real, proximate or effective cause of you contracting the virus.

    For liability to be accepted, an insurer would need to be satisfied that  your employment was the real, proximate or effective cause of  you contracting the virus.

  • Each claim lodged for COVID-19 will be considered on its individual merits, taking into account individual circumstances and evidence.

    If evidence is provided that your exposure to COVID-19 occurred out of or in the course of your employment, whether at or away from your place of employment, then the insurer will need to determine if your employment has “materially contributed” to your contraction of COVID-19 diagnosis.

    Note: “material contribution” is defined to mean that the employment was the real, proximate or effective cause.

    For viruses, it can be difficult to accurately determine the exact time and place of contraction. As a result, it may be difficult to determine that employment was the real, proximate or effective cause of the worker contracting the virus.

    However, where a worker's employment puts them at greater risk of contracting the virus the material contribution test may be easier to meet. For example, if the employment involves:

    • travel to an area with a known viral outbreak; or
    • activities that include engagement or interaction with people who have contracted the virus (e.g. health workers).
  • Having an accepted claim for COVID-19 does not alter a workers entitlements under the Act from any other accepted claim for an injury or disease.

    Entitlements for workers with an accepted workers compensation claim under the Act include weekly compensation for loss of wages.  You are entitled to receive your normal weekly earnings for the first 26 weeks of total or partial incapacity, less any amount you actually earn.

    If after the first 26 weeks you are still incapacitated, you will normally be paid at 75% of your loss of earning capacity. Minimum and maximum provisions may apply.

    Other workers' compensation entitlements you may be eligible for include:

    • reasonable costs for medical, surgical and rehabilitation treatment
    • hospitalisation and hospital treatment
    • pharmaceutical expense
    • travel or transportation costs to attend treatment or hospitalisation (including kilometre allowance)
    • upskilling or training for a different career, if your injury prohibits you working in your pre-injury position
    • payment for a permanent impairment.

    The above list is not exhaustive as the needs of individual workers are different.

  • All insurers and self-insurers will give careful consideration to the potential impacts of COVID-19 on claimants and will monitor the situation as it continues to evolve.

    The Act requires a worker to undertake reasonable treatment and training, or assessment, however, insurers and self-insurers have strong contingency plans in place that include making alternate arrangements to assist injured workers and taking reasonable and proportionate action in these challenging circumstances.

    It is recommended that you contact your claims manager to discuss your concerns relating to travel and attending appointments.

    The Northern Territory government has a dedicated web page for the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, including travel restrictions.

  • If you have returned to full duties and are required to self-isolate, then your normal leave requirements will need to be utilised.

    Having to self-isolate due to COVID-19 would not be incapacity for work that your injury materially contributed to and would therefore not be considered as part of your existing claim.

    Workers compensation wages payments are not paid for personal illness unrelated to a workers claim.

  • If you were required to self-isolate due to COVID-19 or contracted COVID-19 and were unable to work, then the following would apply.

    If your normal working hours prior to injury were from 8:00am to 4:30pm and your ‘statement of fitness for work’ from your medical doctor certified you fit to return to work for restricted hours (for example 3 hours a day), then you would need to access your sick leave entitlements for the 3 hours that you were certified fit to work.

    For the remaining normal working hours for each day (where you have been certified unfit) you should be paid compensation at your current calculated workers compensation amount.

  • If your alternative employer is no longer able to provide you with work, then your original employer at the time of your injury must take reasonable steps to ensure that suitable employment is provided for you.

    If your original employer is unable to provide you with suitable employment, then you will continue to be paid wages until such time that suitable employment is found or an assessment of most profitable employment is conducted by the insurer after 104 weeks of your total or partial incapacity.

    For more general questions on claims, please see the Workers frequently asked questions for workers compensation.

  • NT WorkSafe is following the government advice provided on the Northern Territory Government Coronavirus website.

    Currently mediation services are continuing and when an application for mediation is received you will receive any further updates from the mediation coordinator.

    If you are following government protocols and are currently in self-isolation or have concerns for your health due to underlying conditions, please make this known in your application for mediation.

    You will also be able to discuss possible alternative arrangements with your mediator when they are appointed.

  • All insurers have provided NT WorkSafe with their business continuity plans detailing the processes and systems in place in relation to their workers compensation insurance activities.

    The plans outline that workers compensation services will be maintained and any impact to policy holders, claimants or other stakeholders resulting from the coronavirus pandemic is minimised.

    If you have specific questions or concerns relating to your claim, please contact your claims manager to seek clarification.

FAQ's for employers

FAQ's for doctors, allied health and vocational rehabilitation providers

FAQ's for JobKeeper

  • In the above scenario the person is not performing work or a service of any kind for another person under a contract and would therefore not meet the definition of a worker pursuant to s3 of the Act.

    As these workers would not meet the definition of worker pursuant to the Act, they would not be entitled to lodge a workers compensation claim.

    The JobKeeper payments allow the business to maintain an employment relationship which will enable a fast return to work when restrictions relating to COVID-19 are lifted.

    In this scenario the JobKeeper payments would not be treated as wages for the purposes of s130(5) of the Act.

  • In this scenario your employee would be a worker for the purposes of s3 of the Act.

    Whilst a worker is not attending your normal business premises, the home of your worker would be considered their workplace pursuant to s3 of the Act.

    A worker in the above scenario may be eligible for the JobKeeper payment if the relevant criteria is met.  This will assist you, the employer, in continuing to pay your worker at their normal rate of $2500, with $1500 being subsidised through the JobKeeper payment.

    If your worker were to be injured whilst working in their home, they would be entitled to lodge a workers compensation claim if the incident occurred out of or in the course of employment, s4.

    JobKeeper payments would be treated as wages for the purposes of s130(5) of the Act.

  • In this scenario your worker would be a worker for the purposes of s3 of the Act.

    They are working at your normal business premises which is a workplace pursuant to s3 of the Act.

    If your worker were to be injured whilst working, they would be entitled to lodge a workers compensation claim if the incident occurred out of or in the course of employment, s4.

    JobKeeper payments would be treated as wages for the purposes of s130(5) of the Act.

  • The JobKeeper payment is defined by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) as a wage subsidy that is paid to eligible employers for all full-time, part-time and casual workers who have been with their employer for at least the previous 12 months. It is a flat $1500 per fortnight payment for each worker, for six months.

    An employer would have records of the workers’ previous 12 months wages and therefore could provide clear evidence to an insurer of what a workers’ wages were prior to the receipt of the JobKeeper payments.

    The term wages does not have a specific definition in the Return to Work Act 1986 or the Interpretation Act 1978, but is defined in the dictionary as - a fixed regular payment earned for work or services, typically paid on a daily or weekly basis.

    As the definition for wages above provides, it is payment earned for work or services.  The gap between what the worker earned and the JobKeeper payment as asked in the question above ($1000) would not be wages as there was no work or service conducted for this portion of the payment.

    The Northern Territory is a privately underwritten scheme and the premiums for the purposes of workers compensation insurance is not determined by the Regulator.

    Wages are one component taken into account by insurers for the calculation of premiums.

    Employers/brokers will need to discuss their individual situation with their insurer, however the Insurance Council of Australia has provided advice that if a worker is working and the JobKeeper payment of $1500 exceeds a workers current wages, then the top up amount of the JobKeeper payment should not be classified as wages and the Regulator supports this view.

    So in the example provided in the question above, the $1000 (top up amount) would not need to be declared to the insurer as wages pursuant to s130(5) of the Act.

  • Yes the full $2000 will be classified as wages and you will need to declare the full amount to your insurer in your wage declaration pursuant to s130(5) of the Act.

  • According to the ATO, employees currently on workers compensation where they are totally incapacitated for work would not meet the eligibility requirements for JobKeeper payments.

    The JobKeeper program does not override or alleviate worker entitlements or employer obligations under the Return to Work Act 1986 (the Act). Employers/insurers must continue to pay all workers entitlements.

  • If an injured worker passes the eligibility test provided by the ATO, then, as an employer, you may be able to receive JobKeeper payments for your injured worker.

    If your injured worker was normally paid equal to or less than $1500 per fortnight, then in accordance with the ATO rules, the employer must pay the worker the full amount of $1500.

    As the worker is receiving an amount below or equal to their normal weekly earnings from the JobKeeper payment and the employer has no out-of-pocket expense, the employer cannot request the insurer to reimburse the $1500 paid to the worker.

    The $1500 JobKeeper payment is a wage subsidy, not an expense for the employer to include in the sum for which they are liable.

    Care should be taken to ensure that the employer is not seen to be double dipping.

    In accordance with Return to Work Regulation 15A and Schedule 3, the prescribed provisions for compulsory insurance provides that an insurer is required to indemnify the employer against all such sums for which the employer shall be so liable.

  • If an injured worker passes the eligibility test provided by the ATO, then, as an employer, you may be able to receive JobKeeper payments for your injured worker.

    In accordance with the ATO rules, the employer must pay the full amount of $1500 JobKeeper payment to the worker, irrelevant of how much a worker previously/currently earns or the hours worked.

    If an injured workers compensation has been calculated as $2000 per fortnight, then the employer must continue to pay the worker $2000 per fortnight. Section 64(3)(a) of the Act refers to the amount that the worker actually earned in employment during the week. The $1500 is a wage subsidy and not actually earned by the worker, however, it is still an amount that must be paid to the worker by the employer (in accordance with the ATO) and the insurer is only liable to pay the top up required.

    The employer would pay the worker $1500 and claim $500 from the insurer as the top up sum for which the employer is liable.

    In accordance with Return to Work Regulation 15A and Schedule 3, the prescribed provisions for compulsory insurance provides that an insurer is required to indemnify the employer against all such sums for which the employer shall be so liable.

    The JobKeeper program does not override or alleviate worker entitlements or employer obligations under the Return to Work Act 1986 (the Act). Employers/insurers must continue to pay all workers entitlements.

  • The JobKeeper subsidy does not override or alleviate a workers entitlements under the Act.

    If an injured worker passes the eligibility test provided by the ATO, then, as an employer, you may be able to receive JobKeeper payments for your injured worker.

    In accordance with the ATO rules, the employer must pay the full amount of $1500 JobKeeper payment to the worker, irrelevant of how much a worker previously/currently earns or the hours worked.

    If an injured workers compensation has been calculated as $2000 per fortnight, then the employer must continue to pay the worker $2000 per fortnight.

    Section 65 of the Act provides loss of earning capacity in relation to a worker is the difference between a workers normal weekly earnings and the amount, if any, the worker is capable of earning in work, however, the employment, if any, must be reasonably available.

    In the above scenario, the work is no longer reasonably available and therefore the worker would be entitled to 75% of their normal weekly earnings as calculated for their loss of earnings.

  • The JobKeeper subsidy does not override or alleviate a workers entitlements under the Act.

    If an injured worker passes the eligibility test provided by the ATO, then, as an employer, you may be able to receive JobKeeper payments for your injured worker.

    In accordance with the ATO rules, the employer must pay the full amount of $1500 JobKeeper payment to the worker, irrespective of how much a worker previously/currently earns or the hours worked.

    The worker having returned to full time work and work being no longer available, would not entitle the worker to any top up monies.

    Section 65 of the Act provides loss of earning capacity in relation to a worker is the difference between a workers normal weekly earnings and the amount, if any, the worker is capable of earning in a week, whether or not such employment is available.

    In the above scenario, the work is no longer reasonably available and the worker would receive the $1500 JobKeeper payment and would not be entitled to a top up amount for loss of earnings.

  • The JobKeeper subsidy does not override or alleviate a workers entitlements under the Act.

    If at the time of your injury, your employer was uninsured, then your claim is made against the Nominal Insurer.

    What this means is that your claim is dealt with and determined as if the Nominal Insurer were the employer of the worker making the claim pursuant to s170 of the Act.

    An injured worker who is receiving weekly payments for incapacity is required to immediately notify the employer (in this case the Nominal Insurer) if their circumstances change in such a way as is likely to affect their entitlements or the amount of compensation pursuant to s90 of the Act.

    In accordance with the ATO rules, the workers actual employer must pay the full amount of $1500 JobKeeper, irrespective of how much the worker previously earned.

    If a worker is receiving JobKeeper payments ($1500 per fortnight) this means their circumstances have changed and they must notify the Nominal Insurer of this change.
    On receipt of this notification from the injured worker, the Nominal Insurer may issue a notice with the intention to reduce or cancel the amount of compensation pursuant to s69 of the Act and subsequently adjust payments accordingly.

    If the injured workers circumstances changed where they are no longer receiving the JobKeeper payments they should apply to the Nominal Insurer to alter the level of weekly payments pursuant to s86 of the Act.

  • The JobKeeper subsidy does not override or alleviate a workers entitlements under the Act.

    If an approved insurer has taken over the direct payments of the amounts of compensation payable to an injured worker pursuant to s132 of the Act, then an injured worker receiving weekly payments for incapacity is required to immediately notify the employer (in this case the approved insurer) if their circumstances change in such a way as is likely to affect their entitlements or the amount of compensation pursuant to s90 of the Act.

    If an injured worker is receiving JobKeeper payments ($1500) the injured worker must notify the approved insurer that their circumstances have changed.

    On receipt of this notification from the injured worker, the approved insurer may issue a notice with the intention to reduce or cancel the amount of compensation pursuant to s69 of the Act and subsequently adjust payments accordingly.

    If the injured workers circumstances changed where they are no longer receiving the JobKeeper payments they should apply to the approved insurer to alter the level of weekly payments pursuant to s86 of the Act.

  • Prior to JobKeeper payments my worker received $1000 a fortnight, however, received $1500 a fortnight from JobKeeper payments.  Their hours/days/duties did not alter prior/during/after receiving the JobKeeper payments.

    The JobKeeper subsidy does not override or alleviate a workers entitlements under the Act.

    In accordance with the ATO rules, the employer must pay the full amount of $1500 JobKeeper payment to the worker, irrespective of how much a worker previously earned.
    If a worker were to be injured and is totally or partially incapacitated for work as the result of an injury then the worker is entitled to be paid compensation.

    Section 49A of the Act provides a worker’s normal weekly earnings are the gross remuneration paid to the worker and further what is included and not included in the calculation.

    Whilst it could be perceived that gross remuneration paid to the worker may include the full JobKeeper payment, s49A(4)(c) precludes an allowance or grant not outlined in s49A(3)(c).  The JobKeeper payment is a temporary scheme that does not have to be earned, but rather an incentive for employers to maintain their connection to their workers.

    In the above question, only the portion of the JobKeeper payment actually earned would be used ($1000) to calculate both the amount that the worker actually earned and the gross remuneration paid to the worker.

    A workers previous payslips (prior to JobKeeper payments) may be requested to calculate remuneration paid to the worker to more easily exclude the JobKeeper payment.