Australia: Significant Changes To QLD Workers’ Compensation Scheme

Last Updated: 19 November 2013
Article by Matthew Hockaday

On 17 October 2013, the Queensland Parliament passed amending legislation making significant changes to the Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (WCRA).  Of particular significance, the amendments introduce, for the first time in Queensland, an injury threshold for workers to be able to pursue common law (negligence) claims against their employer.

Introduction of 5% threshold

A worker under the WCRA must now receive a "degree of permanent impairment" (DPI) – formerly known as "work related impairment" or "WRI" – of more than 5% for an injury in order to pursue common law damages against their employer.  The worker's DPI for the injury is assessed by a doctor appointed by the  workers' compensation insurer WorkCover Queensland or, if the employer is self-insured, by the employer.

The threshold applies to all injuries occurring on or after 15 October 2013.

An injured worker will still be able to make a statutory (no fault) claim under the WCRA irrespective of the threshold and be covered for wage benefits and medical costs and also be entitled to specified lump sum compensation for their injury.

Impact on non-employers and their insurers

The introduction of the 5% threshold is likely to substantially reduce the current number of claims for damages brought by injured workers against their employers, particularly where only minor injuries are involved. This reduction in claims should in turn result in fewer claims for contribution being made by employers against non-employer defendants.

However, we anticipate the change is likely to increase the number, and value, of direct claims being made by injured workers against non-employer defendants – such as host employers, occupiers, contractors and manufacturers (and public and product liability insurers) – under the Personal Injuries Proceedings Act (PIPA) because such claims are not subject to any injury threshold. Injured workers who do not meet the impairment threshold are therefore likely to increase their focus on non-employer respondents to obtain damages.  Further, the non-employer respondent will not be able to obtain contribution from the employer as a joint tortfeasor where the injury threshold has not been met.  Consequently the non-employer will, if found liable, be responsible for the full amount of the claim regardless of any negligence on behalf of the employer (absent any contractual indemnity provided by the employer).

Who is a "worker" under the WCRA

The latest amendments to the workers' compensation scheme come on the back of changes made to the definition of "worker" in the WCRA from 1 July 2013. The change essentially aligns the definition of "worker" under the WCRA with that used by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), that is, the worker works under a contract and, in relation to the work, is an employee for the purpose of assessment for PAYG withholding under the Taxation Administration Act 1953 (Cth). However, Schedule 2 of the WCRA also specifically includes or excludes certain persons as workers under the WCRA irrespective of whether they satisfy the worker test.

Whether or not a person is called an employee or contractor is not determinative of whether they would be a "worker" under the WCRA. The ATO website contains useful guidelines and an employee/contractor decision tool which can be used to consider whether a person is an employee (and therefore a worker) or a contractor. WorkCover Qld has stated that it will use the ATO guidelines and decision tool to determine who should be covered for workers' compensation and claims purposes, provided the person is not specifically included or excluded as a worker under Schedule Two of the WCRA. Therefore, employers should use the ATO decision tool if they are unsure whether a person is a "worker" for the purposes of the WCRA and a copy of the determination should be kept as a record.

An example of a specific exclusion under Schedule 2 of the WCRA relates to certain crew (including skippers) of fishing vessels. The Schedule provides a member of the crew of a fishing vessel is not a worker for the purposes of the WCRA if (a) the person's entitlement to remuneration is contingent upon the working of the ship producing gross earnings or profits and (b) the remuneration is wholly or mainly a share of the gross earnings or profits. Such crew members are commonly referred to as "share fisherman" but it is important the specific requirements of the exclusion are satisfied otherwise the crew member might be considered to be a worker under the WCRA.

Claims for damages by injured workers who fall outside the operation of the WCRA will not be subject to the injury threshold, and such claims will continue to be governed by the PIPA and be determined in accordance with the provisions of the Civil Liability Act.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Matthew Hockaday
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Mondaq Advice Centre (MACs)
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.