Does WorkCover pay full wages?

WorkCover and full wages

No, WorkCover pays income replacement benefits at a rate less than your full wage if your ability to work is impacted because of a work related injury or illness.

Income benefits are calculated based on an average of your earnings with an employer for 12 months prior to the injury (or if you’ve been with an employer for less than 12 months, then it’s the average of however long you’ve been there).

For the first 13 weeks after an injury, you’re paid at 95% of that average.

For weeks 14 to 130, you’re paid at 80% of that average.

You’re entitled to have any shift allowances and overtime included in the calculation of your income benefits for 52 weeks after the injury.

Top up pay

From the employer

In some cases, an employer (rather than the WorkCover insurer) may pay top-up pay for a specified period of time, which can result in the person being paid partly by the WorkCover insurer and partly by their employer if their ability to work is impacted.

Employers, particularly larger employers, will pay top up pay because it is specified in an enterprise bargaining agreement (or similar), which the worker is covered by.

It is, however, certainly not the norm.

Most employers will not pay topup pay if you’re on WorkCover.

From the insurer

If you have been in receipt of weekly payments from WorkCover for at least 130 weeks, and if you have returned to work, working at least 15 hours per week, and earning at least $211 per week – then you may be able to claim top up payments from the WorkCover insurer.

Graphic describing top up payment entitlement from WorkCover insurer

The 130 week mark and how it impacts weekly payments is explored further in this article.

There must be medical support from your treating doctor saying that you’re working at your full work capacity.

And, that that is likely to continue to be the case (that is, that you’re not likely to be able to increase your work hours).

To claim top up payments, you should contact the insurer and ask them to send you out the relevant form (or ask your lawyer to handle it for you).

You can read more about top up pay from the WorkCover insurer here.

What if I’m not happy with the calculation of my payments?

You can ask the WorkCover insurer to perform a review of your payments to check that you’ve been getting paid correctly.

It would also be advisable to engage a lawyer to review your payments.

You can also pursue the matter to conciliation.

The conciliation process is explained here.

If the matter doesn’t resolve at conciliation, then you can take the matter to the Magistrates’ court.

What about my employment entitlements?

Your employment entitlements – annual leave, sick leave, and long service leave – will continue to accrue if you’re on WorkCover.

You’re also entitled to the payment of superannuation contributions after a period of 52 weeks. 

You can read more about WorkCover and superannuation on this page.

Conclusion

WorkCover won’t pay your full wages if your ability to work is impacted because of an injury or illness related to your employment.

Instead, they’ll take an average of what you earned in the 12 months prior to suffering the injury with this employer (or if you’ve been with this employer for less than 12 months, whatever the period is that you were employed by them).

For the first 13 weeks they’ll pay you 95% of that average figure.

From there on, up until 130 weeks, they’ll pay you at 80% of that figure.

If you’re entitled to payments in addition to 130 weeks, they’ll pay you at the 80% rate.

You’re entitled to have any overtime and shift allowances that you normally would have earned included in your average earning calculation for a period of 52 weeks.

Your employment entitlements should continue to accrue, and you should be paid superannuation contributions (but not for the first 52 weeks).

Please keep in mind that the information contained on this page should not be considered legal advice and no content on this site should replace the need to obtain advice tailored to the specific facts of your case. The facts of a case can significantly alter the advice that can provided. This site only provides general advice. Read more here.

Sidebar graphic of WorkCover benefits guide

To contact Michael or Peter call 1800 746 442 or email [email protected]

Written by the Work Injury Site team