Owner drivers, generally those working as a courier, are in almost all situations covered by the principal's WorkCover insurance. This is even so if the contract specifically states that the courier is not covered by WorkCover.
In order for a courier to obtain the benefit of a principal's WorkCover insurance they must:
- have a contract for services;
- own their own motor vehicle; and
- use that motor vehicle mainly for the purpose of providing transportation services to the one principal.
In general terms, this means that if you are a courier working mainly for the one person or company you should be covered by the principal's WorkCover insurance.
WorkCover has sought to narrow this law by introducing their own private ruling which states that if the owner driver is an incorporated company (i.e has a Pty Ltd company) it is not covered by the principal's WorkCover insurance. This is a ruling which does not have legal force. The result is that many companies are now requiring couriers to enter into a contract not with an ABN but rather an ACN. This is so that the company can avoid paying WorkCover insurance. Attempts to avoid WorkCover insurance in this situation should always be challenged.
It is our view that even if a courier is performing work as an incorporated company the injured person is entitled to the benefit of WorkCover insurance against the principle principal. A recent case issued on this point gainst Civic Transport Services was settled in favour of the courier. The courier was contracted with Civic Transport under an incorporated company. We successfully settled his claim so that he obtained the benefit of weekly payments for his period of incapacity, ongoing medical and like expenses and the right to make a compensation claim.
If you are a courier who has been injured at work and you mainly perform work for just one employer, irrespective of what may be stated in the written contract, it is our view that you are entitled to the benefit of a WorkCover claim against the principal. For more information, you can call our Adviceline for free advice on (03) 9321 9988.