Making a claim for compensation as a labour hire worker can be confusing, so it’s best to speak with an expert. Illawarra Mercury spoke with RMB Lawyer’s head of compensation, Chris Sheppard, to find out how to make a claim.
“Generally speaking, a person is a labour hire worker in circumstances where one company employs them (the labour hire company) and then places them to work with another company,” he said. “The person’s wages are paid by the labour hire company, despite the fact that he or she is performing work for another company or individual.”
There are two types of claims which can be made:
- A workers’ compensation claim against the labour hire company which employs them; and
- If the injury occurred as a result of another party’s negligence or unsafe system of work, a claim against that company.
Mr Sheppard said while both types of claims are valuable, the workers’ compensation laws in NSW limit an injured worker’s entitlements and the types of claims that can be made. “However, any claim against a negligent third party is not restricted by workers compensation laws,” he added. “Therefore, labour hire workers potentially have a number of options to attempt to fairly compensate themselves for any injuries they suffer at work.”
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There are time-frames to be aware of, Mr Sheppard noted. “A three-year limitation period applies to claims where a labour hire contractor has sustained an injury during the course of their employment,” he said. “The limitation period starts to run when the claim becomes ‘discoverable’. However, it is advisable to begin any court proceedings within three years of the date of the accident in order to avoid any dispute as to when the claim became ‘discoverable’.”
Under workers’ compensation laws, Mr Sheppard said compensation was restricted to weekly income support, treatment expenses, rehabilitation expenses and if the injury is of sufficient severity, permanent impairment compensation. These are for limited time periods.
“If a claim in negligence is available, the damages which may be claimed could include pain and suffering, past and future wage and superannuation losses, past and future treatment expenses, damages for home maintenance assistance and any modifications needed to the home,” he advised. “These damages are paid as a tax free lump sum which provides the injured worker with the opportunity to plan and invest for their future.”
Mr Sheppard stressed the importance of consulting specialists. “We act for labour hire contractors on a no win – no fee basis,” Mr Sheppard said. “We will also pay for all of the costs related to investigations, medical reports and court filing fees necessary to begin your claim.”