As a business owner, it is important to know what your legal obligations are in relation to protecting your employees from injury on the job and knowing how this will affect the operation and success of your business. WorkCover assists business to provide a safety net for employees if anything does happen to them on the job and helps to protect your business by covering the cost of this. Below, we set out what are your WorkCover obligations if you are a small business owner in Victoria.

What is WorkCover?

WorkCover is, in effect, an insurance payment made to employees if they are injured or become sick as a consequence of their work. Workers’ compensation includes payments to employees to cover their wages while they are unfit for work and medical expenses and rehabilitation.

WorkCover is regulated on a state-by-state basis. If you operate your business in Victoria, you will be required to register with WorkSafe if your company’s annual remuneration is over $7,500. This includes all types of remuneration such as salaries, director’s fees and payments through dividends (‘rateable remuneration’) and applies where you are a director and employee of your own company. Your workplace policy will also cover any other directors and employees of your business who receive a salary or a wage.

The cost of your insurance will be determined by the safety rate of your industry over the preceding five years. The amount of premium you will need to pay depends on the size of your business by considering the entirety of the salaries and other benefits you provide to your workers. You will be required to pay these premiums to a WorkSafe Agent, who oversees all of the WorkCover insurance claims and processes. You can find the contact details of current Agents on WorkSafe’s website. 

What are the Relevant Provisions?

Below, we set out the relevant provisions of the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2013 (VIC) that detail your obligations as an employer:

  • Section 436: Notify WorkSafe of any change in circumstances including any changes to your company’s name, trading name, address, change in activities, workplace location or if your company ceases operating at a particular location.
  • Section 438: Keep proper books and accounts and preserve them for at least five years.
  • Section 439: Notify WorkSafe of an estimate of your company’s ‘rateable remuneration’ within 28 days after receiving notice. Under s 440, WorkSafe is also able to provide you with an estimate which determines the amount of premium you will be required to pay at that time. Rateable remuneration is the amount of wages and other benefits you pay to your workers and includes cash and non-cash payments.
  • Sections 441 and 442: Give WorkSafe a certified statement of your company’s rateable remuneration within 28 days when required. This is usually done at the end of every financial year.
  • Section 443: Notify WorkSafe within 28 days of becoming aware of any changes if your estimate of rateable remuneration is likely to change by more than 20% during a premium period.

All of the above obligations can be completed online via WorkSafe’s Online Employer Services system. 

In Short

It is important to understand your responsibilities to your business and your employees in completing and updating this information correctly. If you are unsure of the processes involved or need legal advice on a specific situation, let our employment lawyers know on 1300 544 755. 

Bianca Reynolds

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