The A to Z Glossary of Legal Terms for Compensation Law

The A to Z Glossary of Legal Terms for Compensation Law

No matter what area of the law you’re dealing with, there will always be some words that simply make no sense unless you’ve studied law at university for years. To help you understand common terms used in compensation law, we’ve put together this comprehensive glossary of legal terms to help.


As an alternative to a court action, to abate is to reduce or put a stop to a lawsuit or class action.

Abuse of process

To misuse proceedings – e.g. inciting lengthy delays which can disadvantage one party.

Accident insurance policy

A policy taken out to cover an employer’s liability for damages and compensation that may occur from any work-related injury by an employee.


To find one party not guilty after going to trial.


Presenting evidence in court.


To delay a court hearing to a time specified in the future.


Evidence provided for a court case through a written document that is sworn on oath.


When a pre-existing condition is reignited or made worse.


Something not yet proved yet stated to be true.

Alternative dispute resolution

When alternative methods such as mediation, negotiation, arbitration, or conciliation are used to resolve a dispute.


To ask for a review of a decision from a lower court by a higher court.


A less formal process than a court hearing that is used to resolve disputes.


Any payments that are owing or made past their due date.

Asbestos-related diseases

Any disease confirmed to be caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibres.

Average premium rate

The average of net premium wages as a portion of total wages. This figure is given as a percentage.


When one side is favoured over another side in a dispute.

Breach of contract

When a person fails to perform the activities agreed within the terms of a contract.

Business activity

The core function of a business as seen by its primary offering.


A warning or notice to beware of certain conditions that can affect the outcome.

Certificate of Currency

Documentation to confirm the Accident Insurance Policy of an employer is current.

Code of practice

Guidelines that exists for the fair trade and fair practice of industries and professions.

Committal proceedings

The process of a Magistrate Court hearing evidence to decide whether a trial for the accused is required.

Common law claim

A direct claim by an employee against their employer, through a common law action, to recover damages for financial loss, pain, legal costs or medical and hospital costs.

Common law damages

Payments made under a common law claim. For employee related injuries, these are compensations paid as general damages (pain and suffering) or financial loss (for past earnings and future expected earnings).

Community Treatment Order

An order for a medical practitioner to treat an involuntary patient in the community.

Conflict of interest

When the interest of one party corruptly affects how they perform a duty to another.

Contract of service

The engagement between an employee and one employer for a wage or salary, with set working hours and supervision. The employer has the right to discipline or dismiss the employee from the contract of service under certain conditions.


Evidence from another independent party that supports the main evidence.


Payments made under common law.

Damages certificate

The application form required when employees seek damages where they have not received a lump sum payment.

Damages claim

When an injured employee proceeds with a common law action against their employer for negligence.

Declaration of wages form

The documentation required to assess wage information of an employee.


Dangerous Electrical Event


False, misleading or derogatory statements made about another person without lawful justification, that appear in publication, the press, electronically, or by word of mouth.


To fail in something that was due or meant to happen.

Default assesment

When insufficient information has been provided to WorkCover by the employer, a default assessment will be made based on calculations WorkCover believe to be adequate cover. Employers have 15 days to object to the default assessment.


When a lower ranked person is able to make decisions on the behalf of the person or organisation.


Any family member of an injured/deceased employee reliant (dependent) upon the earnings of the injured/deceased. This can include partial or total financial dependency.


Upon settlement of a claim, an injured employee signs a discharge to release all parties from further liability. This discharge is to release employers, other parties involved, and WorkCover.


Choosing or not choosing to do something, for instance if it is at your discretion to lodge or investigate a complaint.


Department of Justice and Attorney-General.

Due diligence

The steps taken to avoid committing an offence based on the corporate responsibilities of officers.


When pressure is applied to force another party into either doing something or stopping them from doing something.

Elective hospitalisation

When an injured employee and their doctor decide on the chosen hospitalisation for treatment or a procedure for a work-related injury.

Eligible persons

A contractor, director, trustee, partner, or self-employed persons who are not direct employees and are remunerated for work or services provided.

Employer excess

Payment from the employer to an injured employee for the first weekly compensation not covered as part of the claims policy.

Employer statement

Documentation to state the date by which a premium amount must be paid.

Employing entity

The body that states it does or intends to hire employees. For example, a sole trader, partnership or corporation.


Use of an agreement to ensure people obey contracts, terms or law.


Inducing someone else to commit an offence.


Electrical safety

ESO – Electrical Safety Officer

The body that develops and enforces electrical safety standards and performance for the wider community. Their charter is to maintain socially responsible and safe electrical industry codes of practice.


A force of law that prevents a person from denying what they have previously stated.

Estimated wages

A figure calculated to estimate the next financial years wages based on earnings for the last financial year. Generally used by WorkCover when calculating premiums.


Enforceable undertaking


Information or any content that is used to prove or disprove facts and truth.


Elevating Work Platform

Experience based rating

A calculation used for an Accident Insurance Policy that uses an employer’s wage and claims experience against that of the industry to determine their premium.

F factor

A factor used to help calculate the cost of injury per year.


Falling object protective structure


An act that is dishonest and intentionally aims to deceive.

Freedom of information

The protected right for everyone to access government information, unless stated by law.

Goods and services tax (GST)

A tax that is payable on the premium and is eligible to be claimed as an input tax credit. GST is not applicable to weekly compensation payments.

Grievance procedure

The systems and process used to settle disputes with employees.

Health & safety representative

An appointed employee elected to represent the wider group on health and safety matters.

Health provider

Any medical or allied provider of health services registered by a professional board.

Hospital order

The admission of an involuntary patient to a mental hospital via a court order.

Host employer

An alternative employer who ‘hosts’ and injured employee, usually for three to six weeks, when their original employer cannot allow them to participate in rehabilitation at their workplace.


High risk worth


Health and safety committee


Health and safety representative

Implied terms

Terms not required to be stated in a contract as they are automatically included through legislation.

In lieu

In place of; instead of. For example, the agreement to offer time off in lieu of salary.


Evidence unable to be used in a court action.


The compensation given for a wrong or loss suffered as a direct result of another.

Industrial deafness

Hearing loss caused by excessive noise in the workplace.

Industrial disease

Any disease with a definite link to an industry or result from a type of work.

Industrial instrument

An agreement or award that directs the employee’s employment conditions.

Industry classification

A classification assigned to a business across an industry, based on the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification.

Industry rate

The premium per $100 of wages assigned to a WorkCover Industry Classification.

Informed consent

Once a procedure has been explained in detail and one party decides to proceed, knowing they had the choice to refuse.


When a person injures himself or herself in the course of employment, or when the course of employment is a significant factor contributing to the injury.

Input tax credit

The GST amount that a business can claim back.

Interstate claims

When working in another state, an employee may be entitled to special compensation if injured.

Irreconcilable difference

The inability to overcome difference between parties over the long-term.

Irrevocable election

The decision by an employee to accept a statutory lump sum compensation or make a common law claim against an employer when they have a work-related impairment of less than 20%. This decision is irrevocable.

Item number

Each health provider has a unique item number for health services that corresponds to a fee payable for the service.

Journey claims

Compensation entitlements when an injury is sustained on the way to or from work.

Legally binding

Enforceable by law.

Legal Services Commission

An independent statutory body to handle disputes and complaints regarding the conduct of legal professionals, including solicitors, barristers, and law practice employees.


To owe another under legal responsibility.

Long stop limitation period

A 12 year period exists for personal injury cases from the time the injury or death to the time of court proceedings for damages.

Lump sum compensation

A lump sum entitlement is paid when an employee sustains permanent injury as a result of a work related injury.


Information and facts that are relevant or may influence decision making.


A method to resolve disputes using the services of an impartial third party to assist negotiations.

Medical assessment tribunals

A format for the independent assessment of worker’s compensation claims made by the employee or their authorised representative. This tribunal is run by the Workers’ Compensation Regulator.


False or misleading statements that are intentional or unintentional.

Musculoskeletal disorder

Injury or disease to the musculoskeletal system, excluding crushing and entrapment from plant and machinery operations


A lack of duty of care causing injury, loss, or damage to another person.

Nominal damages

The small amount awarded when no damage has occurred yet a right has been affected.

Non-elective hospitalisation

When treated in hospital for life-threatening injuries, or emergency hospitalisation for serious damage or loss to a limb or organ.

Normal weekly earnings

Earnings from ongoing or intermittent employment for the 12 months prior to sustaining an injury.

Notice of assessment

WorkCover documents issues following assessment of permanent  injury or impairment to an employee from a work-related injury.

Notice of Claim for Damages

Documentation required prior to court proceeding for damages.


A representative person who makes decisions of responsibility and financial standing on behalf of a corporation.


Over a period of time


Persons conducting a business or undertaking


Participative Ergonomics for Manual Tasks

Person responsible

For patients unable to provide informed consent, a person is designated to make medical treatment decisions on their behalf.

Permanent impairment

Any impairment or loss that is unlikely to improve with medical or surgical intervention – whether psychological, physiological or anatomical.


Provisional improvement notice


The person with the WorkCover insurance policy in their name.

Power of attorney

A document of legal standing that gives power to one person to represent another and act on their behalf in specified circumstances.


Personal protective equipment

Premium notice

The financial amount payable by WorkCover policyholders whether new, renewed, or re-assessed.

Premium rate

The rate decided on as the premium for a financial year based on wages, claims, business size, and industry rates.

Principal place of employment

The state or territory where the main business of the employer is situated.

Professional indemnity insurance

Insurance cover to protect a person for negligence as a direct result of their professional duties.

Reasonably practicable

Everything within reason was done for health and safety.

Recess claims

The potential claim for compensation for an injury that occurred to an employee while on lunch or a break and away from their place of employment.

Registered person

All health service providers registered with a relevant professional board.

Regulations / rules

By the authority of an Act of Parliament, laws that are introduced by government departments and statutory bodies are given approval.


The process of treatment to assist the employee to return to work as quickly as possible, and restore the ability to resume duties either full or part time.

Rehabilitation coordinator

The person employed on behalf of the employer to establish co-ordinated care strategies between injured employees, health professionals, providers, and WorkCover.

Rehabilitation provider

Usually health care professionals. The person assigned to assist in the injured employee’s recovery from injury.


When legislation or regulations are cancelled.


To cancel.

Results test

WorkCover instigated test to determine ‘worker’ status.


A decision made to apply results or circumstances to the date prior to it coming into effect.


Roll-over protective structure


Registered Training Organisations


Safety data sheets


Serious electrical incident


Some employers hold a license to manage their companies’ workers compensation needs.

Significant contributing factor

A determinant to identify if the employment itself has been a significant causal factor for the injury.

Sizing factor

A calculation to determine the premium rate for a policy based on the previous claims history.

Special damages

Expenses that are incurred and easy to determine precisely, e.g. medical costs.

Specific performance

When what was stated in the contract has been performed exactly as required.

Stable and stationary

A term used to describe a condition that is not likely to improve with further medical or surgical treatment or care. It has reached its optimal outcomes expectation.

Stamp duty

A payment made to the relevant government on property and business transactions, including the insurance premiums for workers’ compensation.

Status quo

The situation as it is.

Statutory claims

Also known as a ‘no-fault’ claim. When compensation is paid that is neither the worker or the employer’s fault. These can include weekly or lump sum payments, and cover hospital and medical expenses

Statutory compensation

As defined by the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003, it includes weekly or lump sum payments and/or covers medical and hospital expenses.


The evidence necessary to prove something occurred.


With business acquisitions the premium rate will be assigned by calculating the five year history of wages and claims from the proceeding employer.

Suitable duties program

A deliberate program of return-to-work assistance and supervision to help employees get back to work with suitable duties.


Safe work method statements

Tax equivalents regime

The National Tax Equivalents Regime enforces tax payments by WorkCover equivalent to any other registered corporation.

Therapeutic privilege

When a health professional uses his or her right not to divulge information that they believe can harm the patient.

Unconscionable conduct

When a party that is disabled, in a contract or transaction, is taken unfair advantage of.


Legally binding.


Vocational education and training


Has no legal effect.

Wage audit

An independent review of employer payroll records to ensure accurate declaration of wages to WorkCover.


The payment by an employer to employees.


To release legal right or claim.


Workplace Health and Safety


An independent person who is able to provide information to support facts.

Work-related impairment

A lump sum compensation payment from a work related injury.

Work-related injury

Any employee injured where employment was a significant causal factor.

WorkCover Industry Classification

Each business is given a classification based on the industry category they operate in as defined by the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification.


An individual employed full time or part time under a contract of service.


Work related Impairment

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