Workers Compensation in NSW: Requirements and Essentials

Workers’ compensation is a crucial system designed to protect employees in New South Wales (NSW) from financial hardships following work-related injuries or illnesses. It ensures that workers receive appropriate medical care, wage replacement, and other necessary support. However, for businesses and employees to avail of these benefits, they must adhere to specific requirements. This article elucidates the essential requisites of the workers’ compensation scheme in NSW.

Who Needs to Provide Workers’ Compensation?

Any business that employs workers, whether on a full-time, part-time, casual, or even contract basis, typically needs to hold a workers’ compensation insurance policy in NSW. This encompasses almost every industry, from retail and hospitality to construction and healthcare.

Types of Workers Covered

NSW workers’ compensation system is extensive. It covers:

  • Full-time employees
  • Part-time employees
  • Casual workers
  • Contractors and subcontractors (in some cases)
  • Apprentices and trainees

Essential Requirements for Employers

Insurance Policy:

Employers must hold a workers’ compensation insurance policy that covers the total amount of all wages they expect to pay employees. Failing to do so can result in hefty fines.

Display Notice:

Businesses are required to display a “If you get injured at work” notice, detailing the steps an injured worker should take post-injury and the details of the insurer.

Record Keeping:

Maintaining a detailed record of all wages paid, all injuries in the workplace, and any money received as part of claims is mandatory.

Notification of Injuries:

Employers must notify their insurer within 48 hours of becoming aware of a significant injury.

Return to Work Program:

Companies employing more than 20 people must establish a ‘return to work’ program, assisting injured workers to resume work safely.

Requirements for Workers

Immediate Notification

Workers should inform their employer about the injury or illness as soon as possible.

Medical Treatment

Seek immediate medical attention and ensure the doctor issues a certificate of capacity detailing the injury.

Lodging a Claim

Complete a workers’ compensation claim form, attach the medical certificate, and submit it to the employer, who will forward it to the insurer.


Work in tandem with employers and insurers during the recovery and return to work process.

Exemptions and Special Cases

While most businesses need to provide workers’ compensation, some exceptions include:

  • Businesses that pay less than $7,500 in annual wages (though they still need to register and declare their wages).
  • Family businesses where only family members are employed.

However, even if exempt, considering an insurance policy is often wise due to the financial risks associated with potential injuries.

Important Deadlines

Timing is critical in the workers’ compensation system. Key deadlines include:

  • 48 hours: Employers must notify insurers of significant injuries.
  • 6 months: Workers should lodge a claim within six months from the injury date. However, this can extend up to three years in specific circumstances.

Key Considerations for Contractors and Subcontractors

While contractors and subcontractors often operate outside the traditional employee-employer relationship, they can still be deemed ‘workers’ under certain conditions. It’s vital for businesses to understand their obligations concerning these groups, as failing to provide compensation can result in legal complications.

Penalties for Non-compliance

Non-compliance with NSW workers’ compensation requirements can lead to:

  • Financial penalties for not holding an insurance policy.
  • Legal proceedings if found neglecting workplace safety, leading to preventable injuries.

Benefits of Compliance

Meeting workers’ compensation requirements in NSW ensures:

  • Protection from financial liabilities: Insurance covers the costs of medical treatment and rehabilitation for injured employees.
  • Workplace Morale: Employees feel valued and secure, knowing their well-being is prioritized.
  • Business Reputation: Demonstrating responsibility and care enhances the company’s image in the market.


Workers’ compensation is not just a legal mandate but a reflection of a business’s ethos towards its most valuable asset – its employees. By understanding and adhering to the requirements set out by the NSW workers’ compensation system, businesses can ensure a safer, more harmonious, and more productive working environment. For employees, knowing these requirements means understanding their rights and the measures in place to protect them, offering peace of mind in their daily professional lives.