Lessons for employers: Covill v WorkCover Queensland  QSC 171
Date: September 20, 2022
Covill v WorkCover Queensland  QSC 171
Atlas People Pty Ltd, a chef recruitment and labour hire company, employed chefs to work on short and long-term assignments in different parts of Australia.
Ms Covill, a chef by trade, was employed by Atlas to first work on assignment in Batemans Bay in New South Wales.
On 17 December 2019, Ms Covill, sustained an injury in the course of her employment with Altas while working on a second assignment in Daly Waters in the Northern Territory.
WorkCover Queensland accepted her application for compensation. However, Ms Covill did not accept an offer of lump sum compensation and decided to pursue a common law claim for damages.
WorkCover argued that Ms Covill was not entitled to access compensation by way of damages under s 113 the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (Qld), as Ms Covill’s employment is not “connected with” the State.
The Court found Ms Covill’s employment was connected with Queensland, as defined by s 113(3)(c) of the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (Qld).
The Court commented that the connection issue requires an examination of the worker’s employment, not the precise nature of the contract of employment that the employee was working under at the time of the injury.
The Court’s reasoning was:
- The “Conditions of Assignment” confirm that while Ms Covills was under the care, control and supervision of Atlas’ client during assignment, she remained employed by Atlas.
- Clause 30 of the “Conditions of Assignment” advised her instructions for assignment and payroll would come exclusively from Atlas Principal Place of Business located in Queensland.
- Atlas promoted itself to Ms Covill that it has work available in many States, and Ms Covill expressed her intention to have the benefit of being employed with Atlas while working in different parts of Australia.
- Despite not being “usually based” in any one state, if Ms Covill had not been injured, she would have continued working as a chef employed by Atlas under other assignments in other parts of Australia.
What this means for employers …
It is important that employers are clear in their contract of employment with staff, particularly who regularly work interstate, where the contract of employment is located.
Importantly, employers who have a Principal Place of business in Queensland need to ensure they hold a WorkCover Queensland Policy of insurance, and a wages declaration reflecting employees whose employment is connected with the state.
Similarly, employers need to check the workers compensation laws of other states in which they operate to ensure appropriate coverage across all states, and that they are not “Double Insuring” for a particular worker.
Jamie McPherson, Partner, HBA Legal | email@example.com
Courtney Steele, Partner, HBA Legal | firstname.lastname@example.org