If you're setting up in business and intend to employ a number of workers, you should know that you have several legal obligations to fulfil in order to protect them. In particular, you need to provide workers compensation insurance that will give financial assistance to any employees who happen to become ill or are injured as a direct result of their engagement with you. What do you need to bear in mind here?
Under Australian law, injury management and compensation has to be provided to any employee who either injures themselves or picks up a disease as a consequence of their employment. This can include the time that they are travelling to and from work and it can include a sudden incident, or an injury that develops gradually due to a poor work practice, for example.
The employee is able to claim for hospital bills and any rehabilitation costs, as well as a loss of earnings during the time. They can claim for mental or physical injuries and also pursue some money to help them look after their dependent wife, husband and/or children. They are also eligible to choose a specific doctor and someone who can help them rehabilitate follow the injury and this will include the development of a "return to work" plan, if needed.
As an employer, you have to hold a worker's compensation insurance policy, no matter what state or territory you are in. They are all pretty similar, but certain differences are in place in relation to how diseases or injuries are classified, the type of compensation that can be pursued and how each worker may be defined.
Crucially, it's important to understand how you may treat any employer who is affected in this way. You're not allowed to terminate their employment during the initial six months after the incident and must consider reinstating any employee who you do dismiss after that time, should they become fit for employment once again.
Levels of Protection
In some cases, employees may be entitled to significant amounts of money, especially should they be permanently impaired. In the worst-case scenario, their estate could be paid a sizeable lump sum, or weekly amounts could be credited to dependents on an ongoing basis.
As mentioned, worker's compensation regulations can vary across the country and it's important to be aware of all the details in your particular jurisdiction. Have a word with your insurance provider, to make sure that you are perfectly protected and ready to take on your employees.