International students and WorkCover

International students and WorkCover

International students often find work to support themselves financially. But what happens if they are injured?

We are often asked whether the Victorian WorkCover laws apply to international students. The short answer to this question is YES!

The only important question is Are you considered a "worker"?" If'yes', you are entitled to the same entitlements under the Victorian WorkCover laws as any other person working within Victoria.

The Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2013 (Vic) is the law protecting employees who are injured at work. It refers to an employee as a worker , and defines such a person as any individual who performs work or agrees to perform work for an employer. A worker would usually perform work under an employer's direction, instruction or request.

Am I still covered by WorkCover if I don't have a written employment contract?

Again, the answer is YES!

Our laws recognise that contracts of employment can be a written or oral agreement and sometimes can be even implied.

Regardless of how you found a job, as long as you are considered a worker you are covered under Victorian WorkCover laws.

Therefore, most part-time jobs will be covered under WorkCover.

Am I still covered by WorkCover if I am paid in cash?

Again, the answer is YES!

Victorian WorkCover laws will recognise a worker that is paid in cash in the same way as one that is not.

Employers are entitled to pay their workers in cash, as long as tax has been accounted for and sent to the Australian Tax Office (ATO).

There are some employers who employ their workers on a cash in hand basis. This often means that wages are paid without tax being taken out. In many cases, employers who are paying their employees on a cash in hand basis are also not paying their workers their relevant superannuation contributions and/or not paying the WorkCover Authority the right amount of premium payments (their premium is calculated primarily based on the number of employees they have).

A cash in hand job is not acceptable under the law and tax should be paid for you. Similarly, you are entitled to WorkCover.

If you have been employed on a cash in hand basis, you are still encouraged to lodge a WorkCover claim. Once a formal WorkCover claim is submitted there is a risk that the ATO may discover that the required tax contributions have not been made previously by your employer. However, our advice is that you may be worse off if a WorkCover claim is NOT lodged.

Some key advantages for lodging a WorkCover claim are:

  1. Once a WorkCover claim is lodged and accepted, an injured worker is entitled to the payment of medical, hospital and other expenses to assist them with their treatment and rehabilitation.
  2. The weekly payments an injured worker may receive can be quite substantial.
  3. If a worker has suffered a permanent injury, they may be entitled to a lump sum payment.
  4. If a worker has suffered a serious injury and that serious injury occurred because of their employer's negligence, they may also be entitled to sue for compensation for'pain and suffering' (loss of enjoyment of life) and loss of future earnings.


If you are an international student/overseas student and have suffered an injury at work, contact Redlich's Work Injury Lawyers on (03) 9321 9988 for free advice about your potential rights and entitlements.

If you are after a Chinese speaking lawyer in particular, please call our Chinese adviceline directly on (03) 9321 9894 for free WorkCover advice.


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