What’s the go with Workcover?

Do you have a Workcover policy? When was the last time you reviewed this? Are you actually covered adequately?

As a business owner, one of the most important assets of your business is your employees. Some of them may be disguised as contractors, but most will fall clearly into the employee bucket.

What happens in the event of a workplace incident causing injury?

According to Workcover Queensland, if an injured worker approaches them to make a claim, the claim will almost automatically be accepted and processed. If the employer is found to hold no insurance or inadequate insurance, Workcover will pursue the costs for the claim directly from the under/uninsured employer. Depending on the extent of the injury, in some instances, employers have been liable for in excess of $1 million in costs and penalties.

Given the fact that Workcover is starting to ramp up their audit activities and have been singling out businesses across the South East, it is pertinent to review who should be included in your policy, and how to correctly calculate your cover.

Who should be covered?

The bottom line – if you employ one or more people, you need a Workcover policy. You might be surprised to learn that even a homeowner engaging a babysitter is required to hold a Workcover policy (more on that later).

By definition, any individual under a contract of employment that is subject to PAYG withholding should be included under your Workcover policy. This includes sales people engaged on a commission only basis and contractors employed under labour hire agreements.

It is important to note that Workcover looks at the substance of the arrangement, not the form. This means it is the reality of the arrangement and not simply the contract that will determine whether someone is an employee or a contractor.

For example, a massage therapist is engaged as a contractor under a written contract. Under the contract, the therapist can sub contract their 'jobs' to someone else at their discretion. The therapist can set their own hours of work and bring all of their own equipment. On the face of it, the therapist would be considered a contractor. However, the reality is, the therapist can only 'switch shifts' with someone else from the pool of therapists, works similar hours every week, and all equipment is provided on site by the 'employer'. A room is allocated to the therapist to conduct massages, and the therapist always works in that same location. Even though the contract shows all the necessary factors for the therapist being classified as a contractor, the reality of the arrangement (how the therapist actually works) means the therapist is actually an employee, and the employer does have an obligation to cover this employee under their Workcover policy.

When considering whether one of your workers is an employee or not, there are some specific exceptions, the main ones being:

  • Directors, trustees (of the trading trust), partners operation in partnership
  • Workers employed under a "work for the dole" scheme

If you think you may have other individuals that fall under an exception, please discuss with us to confirm.

It is important to note that apprentices now attract a discount – you still declare them (and their wages) on your policy, but the policy premium will be discounted to essentially include them for 'free'.

What is included in wages?

It will be important to determine the correct calculation of wages as this is something Workcover are reviewing and reassessing regularly. Workcover has started cross checking records against the ATO and OSR to confirm reported wages against the wages totals declared for Workcover purposes. Where there is a difference, you can expect an additional bill from Workcover to address the shortfall.

So, what is actually included?

  • PAYG wages and salaries (gross)
  • Superannuation amounts – this includes ALL super payments, even salary sacrifice amounts
  • Overtime, allowances, leave payments, bonuses, commissions are all included
  • Any benefits with a monetary value – think FBT here. If you have an FBT calculation prepared, you may have to include these values in your wages figures for Workcover purposes as well. These include: income protection insurance policies, board and lodging and other amounts subject to FBT. The correct amount to include is the grossed up benefit value
  • Payment to contractors that are really employees (for Workcover purposes. See discussion above when determining the appropriate classification of workers)
  • Profit sharing amounts – this includes payments that are made to employees that are a direct share of profits, e.g. profit distributions, dividend payments, shares issued, etc.
  • Payments made under employee share schemes are also caught

What is excluded?

  • Lump sum payments on termination
  • Compensation payments paid by Workcover
  • Unused leave
  • Payments to directors, partners and trustees, even if these people are working in the business, regardless of the type of payment (not including payments to shareholders or beneficiaries)

Directors are always excluded from Workcover, so this means directors are not covered under any Workcover policy. If you would like to look at alternative insurance arrangements for directors, we can put you in touch with the appropriate people.

Should I have a basic policy?

Workcover offers a $200 minimum premium policy as a very basic level of cover to ensure you at least have some coverage. This can be useful where you engage seasonal workers, or part time admin staff. A base policy is better than no policy!

What about interstate workers?

There are some specific situations where you may require policies in other states. If you have staff working in other states (even for short periods of time) it is worth checking whether your current Queensland policy will cover them. If not, you may need an additional policy in the state where your employee will be working.

Household Workers Policy

As a final note – do you engage babysitters or local high schoolers to mow your lawn? Under the Workcover Act, these kids are considered employees of your household, and you are liable for any injuries or incidents that may occur while they are under your direction. Workcover offers a 'household workers policy' to cover these conditions. This policy is $50 for 2 years, and will give you peace of mind when engaging workers for your household.

Where to from here?

We would recommend the following:

  1. Review the substance of any contractor arrangements to ensure they are truly contractors and not deemed as employees
  2. Review your employee list to ensure directors, trustees and/or partners are not included
  3. Review your employee list to identify any apprentices (a 100% discount applies to apprentices from 1 July 2017)
  4. Review your wage calculations to ensure all appropriate cash based benefits are being included in determining your Workcover premiums
  5. Consider household staff and whether you require a household workers policy

A Little Goes a Long Way

I've come to learn that a little appreciation goes a long way. You know that warm, fuzzy feeling you get when someone thanks you for your efforts? It's moments like these that keep you going – whether you're at home, at work or just getting through life. This is because appreciation embeds the precious thought that we truly matter.

Herzberg's two-factor theory states that there are certain factors in the workplace that cause job satisfaction and dissatisfaction. Feeling genuinely appreciated unleashes a motivation to achieve recognition again as a result of the satisfaction gained. However, when we are not supported we feel vulnerable, and the worry becomes preoccupying and drains our energy. This dissatisfaction prevents us from creating value at work, and the negative emotions associated are incredibly harmful to our health as they can lead to stress, anxiety, and sleep deprivation.

Therefore, it is important to encourage positive culture in the workplace. It has the effect of high productivity and performance as employee worth is recognised and valued. According to Losada's research, positive feedback outweighs negative feedback in terms of performance as employees are able to reflect with meaningful action. Working within a positive culture also boosts employee satisfaction, retention, commitment and motivation.

A positive culture is a healthy culture; how can you embrace it in your workplace? Here are a few tips:

  1. Above all else, do no harm
  2. At times it can be difficult to bite our tongues and restrain our inner beast. All you need to do is pause and give the situation a bit of thought. What will they take from your anger ridden criticism? Try to turn a negative situation into a learning experience by suggesting ways for improvement. First you must address the situation by clearly stating what was wrong, and from there you must support them by providing suggestions. People are more likely to learn from experience if they are given direction.

  3. Practice appreciation by starting with yourself
  4. This is a very important step.  If you have difficulty openly appreciating others, it's likely you will also find it difficult to appreciate yourself. You can do this at the end of the day by thinking about three things you are grateful for. Think about your strong attributes, accomplishments and what makes you, you. If you can't appreciate yourself immediately, think about things in life you are truly grateful for. This will start you off and make it easier day by day to identify personal attributes to appreciate.

  5. Make it a priority to notice what others are doing right
  6. Once you've learned how to appreciate yourself, it becomes easier to tell others what you appreciate about them. Start by thinking about positive qualities, behaviours and contributions you currently take for granted among the members of your team. Then ask yourself, what is it that each of them uniquely brings to the table? Set yourself a goal to appreciate at least three colleagues each day and let them know!

  7. Be appreciative
  8. The more specific you can be about what you value, the more positive your impact on that person is likely to be. A handwritten note makes a bigger impression than an email or a passing comment, but either are better than nothing at all.   We implement the FISH! Philosophy at Overells and we regularly do a team activity where each person receives a page of paper with a colleague's name and it is passed around the table until everyone has handwritten a positive quality for every individual.

Authentically appreciating others will make you feel better about yourself, improve the self-worth of those around you and increase the likelihood that they'll invest more in their work and in you. A little appreciation truly goes a long way.

How One KPI Turned Around British Airways


The story of British Airways and the success of Lord John King in using KPI's to turn the company around is now business folklore. In 1981 at the request of Margaret Thatcher, Lord King took the helms of British Airways. At the time British Airways initials were said to stand for "Bloody Awful" and according to Sir John Egan chairman of Jaguar, British Airways attitude was the customer was an irritating part of the process.

The company was losing money at the rate of 200 pounds per minute and as the government backed the company there was no urgency for change from within.

Upon his appointment, Lord King called upon a group of consultants to provide advice as to what was required to turn around the company. He was told all he needed to focus on was the timely arrival and departure of planes. I imagine he would have responded, "Really, are you sure, that's all?" To his credit he took the advice and acted upon it.

Lord King instituted a system that ensured he was advised immediately whenever a plane was more than two hours late arriving or departing. Managers then received a personal phone call from Lord King if a plane deviated from the acceptable parameters. I imagine no manager would have enjoyed the 'please explain' phone call from Lord King.

By focusing on the right Critical Success Factor and implementing the right KPI, British Airways was able to change its culture and fix a whole range of issues within the company. Issues such as customer satisfaction, staff motivation, promoting open decision making, positive brand recognition, a bias for action, innovation as a daily activity, increased repeat business from key customers, attracting quality staff to the organisation, increasing adaptability and flexibility of staff, increasing empowerment, etc.

If you're interested in learning what your Critical Success Factors are and implementing the right KPI's in your business then please call Overells to discuss.  For further reading, see:

Is Driving Only Useful For Chauffeurs?



The answer is no, of course, driving is a useful skill for many people in both professional and domestic situations.  In our culture you could call it an essential life skill, especially since the vast majority of Australians who are old enough to hold a driver's licence do so and very few households don't have a car.

Another prolific tool nowadays is computers.  Most houses and business have them but their most basic use, typing, is a seemingly overlooked life skill.  It is a task that many people carry out repetitively, day-in day-out.  Making small adjustments to repetitive tasks can dramatically improve output but this one is often ignored when it comes to increasing productivity.

Most of us are self-taught typers which means we are very likely to have bad habits.  Touch typing has been shown to increase productivity by a massive 40% and luckily there are some free and easy tools out there to help improve this vital skill.  And, not only will your typing efficiency improve but you'll soon stop wasting time navigating frequently used applications with your mouse.

My recommendation for online typing lessons is Typing Club.  This free website allows you to log in and track progress as you move through their short lessons.  Each lesson breaks down one aspect of touch typing and just a few minutes practice each day allows you to learn the skill bit by bit.  This small time investment could lead to a significant increase in your productivity, what have you got to lose?



Why You Shouldn't Multi-task

Turn off your phone and your emails for just one hour and see how much work you get done!

We have heard so many times that we need to multi-task in order to be efficient and get everything done in our day, but this could not be further from the truth.

In this day and age where an alert pops up and we look at it immediately, distracting us from our original task and making us loose our train of thought.  Yet we keep doing it.

The human brain is not designed to jump from one task to another, it actually increases the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.  Being stressed makes us less productive, more anxious and clouds our concentration.

Multi-tasking only works for tasks that are second-nature and routine or use different parts of the brain, for example we are quite good at eating and talking because the motor skills that are used are different.

Generally speaking mono-tasking (doing one task at a time) will ensure a better output and more efficient use of time.

Here are some tips for mono-tasking:

  • Remove distractions - put your phone away, turn your email alerts off and close browser windows that you don't need for the task at hand
  • Ensure your desk is clean - clutter on the desk often can increase stress levels (even if it is sub-conscious) and can also serve as a distraction.
  • Plan ahead - have a to-do list and allocate time for each task, important tasks should be allocated for times of the day where you are least likely to be distracted
  • Set up blocks of time for each task - generally, you shouldn't work on the same task for more than 1.5 hours without a break as your brain will become less effective after this time.

So try putting away the distractions and see how much work you get done and the quality of that work!





Arguably this is the most important question in the world but how often do we apply it to business?


The Overells partners recently went to a leadership conference where this was one of the central themes.  One idea that was discussed was "The Golden Circle," which was conceived by Simon Sinek, a leading business speaker.  The concept is summarised in this image:


For a detailed explanation check out this TED Talk video.


The foundation of The Golden Circle is 'find your why'.  It is important for leaders, business owners, team members (everyone!) to understand why they do what they do.  What are their motivations on a short- and long-term basis?   


Most people and companies know what they sell and how they sell it but neglect the why.  With the three questions together there is a filter through which to make decisions (from a company or client level).  There is a foundation for innovation and for building trust.  When the three questions are in balance others will be able to say with clarity and certainty "We know who you are" and "We know what you stand for".


Profit is never the why, it is a result.  The why is about impact and contribution to others, it inspires us.  Can you think of an example where you've had a great customer experience?  What made it such a great experience?  We asked the Overells team these questions and with all the different answers the underlying cause of greatness was that the company seemed to show genuine care for the customer as a person, not just as a way of making money.  People don't buy a product the buy value.  When values are aligned a relationship can be built between a company and its customer.  Can you use your answers to these questions to help influence your why, your purpose?


More tools to help you are available on Simon Sinek's website.  If you are after some thought-provoking, blunt articles to help you find your purpose/why check out Mark Manson's website.


Lastly, in the words of Albert Einstein, "Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value."



Vision For The Future

Where do you see yourself in ten years' time?  Really think about it - will you be in the same house, the same job, with the same friends?  Think back ten years, how have things changed in your life since then.  Could you have predicted where you would be today?

For me, the answer is a definite no!  Ten years ago I was living in the UK, recently graduated from university, living in a share house and working as technician for events and theatres.  I could not have imagined that I would be in Australia, working in an accounting firm, married, owner of my home and (finally!) owner of a dog. 

Despite all the business planning and personal goals in the world we cannot (yet) predict the future, so how can we help ourselves achieve or evolve our dreams?

One useful tool is vision boards.  You may have heard about these in the context of business planning and personal goal setting; in summary they are a collage of images which remind you of what you want to achieve.  They are more inspirational than a to-do list (although these most definitely have place for short-term achievements) because people don't do very well with large amounts of text.  Reading can be overwhelming, our visual systems have evolved to process images as we see them whereas text requires us to scan the characters, recognise them, piece them into words, then sentences and so on to gain understanding.  Vision boards work because pictures stimulate your mind and your feelings without too much brain power, so how can we utilise them for day-to-day inspiration?

To start with, consider the intention of the life you want, the 'why', not just the 'what'.  Do you want to run your own business purely for the profit or are there other factors, for example working for yourself?  Do you want a big house as a status symbol or to fill it with family and friends?  To be effective vision boards need to be a constant reminder of why you are doing something.  If you are having a bad day they need to serve as a reminder of why you are doing what you are doing.

Perhaps you are not sure of your long-term goals yet but need help getting through things on a daily basis.  Picture collages can be used here as 'mood boards' to evoke a certain emotion.  My personal recommendation is to create a wall of photos that help you feel calm; being calm and grounded can help you through almost any situation. 

A good friend of mine has a great mood board which includes photos of snowy mountains (a favourite place), an island beer (conjuring great memories of a fun trip), sunset over the water (another fun holiday), the view skiing down a tree-lined alp (encompassing mountains, snow and a holiday), a favourite meal, and many more inspiring photos.  They are all good, calming memories; events where reoccurrence would be welcome.  A mood board is a reminder that even when you are having a bad day, or struggling with a task, there are lots of positives in life.  It serves as a reminder of the 'why' – work hard to be able to get more of your favourite things in life.

Possibilities for vision boards include:

-          Business targets

-          Personal goals

-          Team motivation

-          Design inspiration

-          Plans for the year ahead

-          Expansion of concepts and removal of limitations of ideas

-          Bringing awareness

Just one more thought – we (still) can't predict the future, it's ok to change your vision boards as things evolve.  Looking back on where I was ten years ago I think it's imperative to remember that dreams are allowed to change!

Building a Business For The Future

For the past three days I have been at a conference about social media and firms of the future.  There were a few points that really enlightened my view of the business world and the direction in which it is progressing.  Here are a few that can be applied to any business:

1.       You need to be completely self-aware and find your clarity in business.

This is for a few reasons.  Firstly, trust is crucial now more than ever and if you are not in touch with your purpose in business and your purpose in life, if you are not in touch with yourself and your motivation, you will not be able to provide value to your clients on a level that really resonates.  Many successful people take a leap of faith in the business world, they dare to be different, and this drive is shown in their work and their business so like-minded people gravitate towards them.


2.       Learn about your clients in a holistic sense

Too many businesses nowadays focus on the transaction rather than the interaction with their clients.  You should always be striving to know about your clients and their lives, this knowledge will enhance your client relationships and business practices.  Take an accounting firm for example, we have a few options to go about processing someone's accounts; we can just do what they ask and get the refund that they think they are entitled to, or we can talk to our clients, understand their business and their situation, and think about what else they might be entitled to, to ensure that all their hard work pays off accordingly.  This not only makes our clients happy and exceeds their expectations but also resonates highly with our company values and the personality of the team at Overells.


3.       All of your energy sources need to be aligned for you to operate effectively.

We all know that to ensure a good output we need to put good food into our body get enough exercise and ensure we are well rested for the next day, Laura highlighted the importance of this in her blog on healthy eating.  What is often underestimated is the impact that the people surrounding us, our environment and our thoughts may have on us as well.  All of these aspects need to be in alignment to ensure maximum productivity, for example if your office is stuffy or the air conditioner is too cold, or your workmates are being uncooperative this will hinder your effectiveness and your internal satisfaction.

There were many things I learned at the conference however I feel that being self-aware and letting this into your business to show that you are genuine and authentic is key, possibly now more than ever in the business world.



In our office we aim to have energy, passion and commitment for all our clients and each other on a daily basis.  This mindset is centred on the world famous FISH! Principles from Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle.  The philosophy encompasses the positive way which a work environment can inspire the team to flourish and be more productive.  There are four very basic principles which can be applied across all facets of life, and truly do make a difference to your day-to-day mindset.  They will teach you that small changes can alter the way it feels to work, live, communicate and lead!


So let me introduce them:


We all know having fun makes time fly so why not apply this to every task.  No, this doesn't mean quit your everyday mundane tasks, it's about your mindset and attitude towards them.  Think outside the box, be creative and inventive in the way you problem-solve and complete tasks.  Try out a new method and encourage people to do things differently.  "Play" allows people to thrive and discover opportunities which may not have found.  It can energise a team and build a productive happy culture.  Everything can be boring if you make it, so don't!

Often the hardest to explain, "make their day" can create the biggest difference.  Here at Overells we try to make every interaction a positive, productive and most importantly, a meaningful experience.  "Make their day" is about simple and genuine actions, whether it be a smile, knowing a client by name or going the extra mile to help someone out with a problem.  When you treat people with kindness, patience and thoughtfulness the outcome is always better!  Not only is the interaction easier, you will most likely receive the same treatment back and who doesn't like to be treated nicely? 

This is by far the hardest principle to face on a daily basis.  With a million things going on, whether its balancing work, university, children, family or general life, we are all way too busy!  In today's world you are congratulated and praised for the art of multi-tasking and quite honestly none of us would survive without the skill.  However, when was the last time you completely focused on a conversation without making a coffee, doing the washing or cooking dinner.  I couldn't even walk to the train this morning without multitasking.  Not only was I walking, crossing roads, fixing my hair and checking I didn't forget anything, I was also on the phone to Mum.  How was I possibly taking in everything she said and making meaningful conversation?  This was also occurring at her end where she was on her computer, sending emails and scheduling her day.  So what was the point of this conversation?  Neither of us were 100% committed to the task.  "Be present" is all about being focused, listening and, well, being present without distraction or interruption.  So next time you are thoughtlessly going through the motions of everyday life, or multi-tasking a million things, stop.  Consider and re-adjust your mindset and priorities.  You may just realise all the things you are missing out on!

All of us have bad days and tend to remember the negatives in our lives.  "Choose your attitude" is exactly that - choose how you want to behave and react to the world around you!  On a daily basis we face challenges and problems which can simply get us down, however responding to these in a constructive and positive way can make all the difference.  Ensure you are appreciative for all the good things that occur and celebrate your success!  Every morning choose a positive attitude and look at the world through new eyes.  We are very lucky with what we have and should appreciate everything, not get bogged down by the bad bits.  Attitudes are infectious so spread the positivity!

Although simple these principles can change your outlook on life for the better! Try them out and let us know how you go.  If you are keen to learn more about the FISH! principles we have a short DVD which we can loan you, just contact our office.

Eat Your Way to Success

The team recently attended a seminar on communication and were surprised to be lectured instead on our eating and lifestyle habits.  It turns out that what we eat and how we live our life determines not only how we look and how long we will live, our eating habits also affect our effective communication and gives us the fuel we need to succeed.

I have been watching Jamie Oliver's new series on TV and he has got me thinking about nutrition and the food that we put into our bodies. 

A few tips that I have picked up along the way

1.       Eat the rainbow! (m&m's don't count)

Different coloured foods have full of all sorts of different vitamins and minerals.  It's amazing how our bodies react to different minerals and the interaction between the minerals.  For example, you may not think that selenium is an important part of your diet, but without it you won't be able to absorb as many important vitamins.


2.       Don't cut foods out, add more!

Focusing on what you CAN and SHOULD eat is so much easier than what you can't eat any more.  Adding little things like legumes, beans and seeds to our diet is as simple as remembering to buy them when you go to the supermarket, and because we are eating more of the good stuff, there is less room for the bad stuff (and I should mention at this point that two squares of dark chocolate is good for you, so that's a staple on the shopping list)!


3.       Eat the way nature intended

Light, low-fat and diet foods focus on one area of the food group and pack in another one to make the food still taste ok.  For example, low fat yoghurt is packed full of sugar.  A lot of diet soft drinks and low sugar foods have the same ingredient that is used to kill ants!  That can't be good for you.  Eating naturally means we get a balance of all the natural vitamins, minerals and important fats and oils.


4.       If you can't draw it, don't eat it.

This is a new one for me.  Try reading the ingredients list and if you can't draw an ingredient, it's probably not great for you.  I personally don't know what food colouring 253 looks like, but I could probably draw something that resembles an apple.


So when you break it down, nutrition doesn't need to be difficult.  Eat a variety of natural, colourful food and before you know it, you will feel like you have more energy, more confidence and you will be commanding a room in no time.

3 Core Measurements for Success

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