Overseas workers

Published: 12 August 2019
Last edited: 12 August 2019

Weekly payments

Generally, workers receiving (or entitled to receive) weekly payments of compensation who leave Australia to live somewhere else, forfeit their entitlement to weekly payments.

However, if an approved medical specialist certifies, or the Workers Compensation Commission (the Commission) determines, that the worker’s incapacity for work is likely to be of a permanent nature, they are entitled to receive quarterly, the amount of the weekly payments while living overseas.

To be eligible, workers need to:

  • have the permanent nature of their incapacity for work certified by an approved medical specialist, or determined by the Commission, and
  • continue to establish their identity and ongoing incapacity as required by the insurer.

Tax on weekly benefits

Weekly payments of compensation made to workers living overseas are subject to Australian income tax.

Where a worker is no longer an Australian resident (under taxation law definitions), then the rate of tax that is deducted from the payment may change. Workers should seek advice from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

Medical expenses

Some medical expenses may be covered for workers living overseas however this needs to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

It is important to note that while the legislation does not prohibit the payment of medical expenses incurred overseas, medical practitioners and treatment providers (for example, physiotherapists) should be qualified, registered and recognised under applicable Australian medical treatment legislation or regulations.

This means that expenses incurred for overseas medical practitioners and treatment providers may not be paid by the insurer unless they meet applicable criteria.

The worker could potentially claim medical expenses incurred overseas by either:

  • finding an Australian registered medical practitioner or treatment provider in the country in which they are now residing, or
  • undertaking video consultations with a medical practitioner or treatment provider located in Australia.