WHS PCBUs, workers and officers: Fact sheet

Under the work health and safety (WHS) laws, effective from 1 January 2012, the term 'employers' was replaced by 'persons conducting a business or undertaking' (PCBU) and 'employees' was replaced by 'workers'.

Who should read this?

This fact sheet should be read by PCBUs, officers and workers.


A PCBU conducts a business or undertaking alone or with others. The business or undertaking can operate for profit or not-for-profit. The definition of a PCBU focuses on the work arrangements and the relationships to carry out the work. In addition to employers, a PCBU can be a corporation, an association, a partnership or sole trader. 

A volunteer organisation which employs any person to carry out work is considered a PCBU. Householders where there is an employment relationship between the householder and the worker are also considered a PCBU.

You are not considered to be a PCBU if you:

  • are engaged solely as a worker or an officer
  • are an elected member of a local authority
  • are a volunteer association
  • are a strata title body corporate responsible for common areas used only for residential purposes

A worker is anyone who carries out work for a PCBU, such as:

  • an employee
  • a contractor or sub-contractor
  • an employee of a contractor or sub-contractor
  • an employee of a labour hire company
  • an apprentice or trainee
  • a student gaining work experience
  • an outworker
  • a volunteer.

You can also be a PCBU and a worker if you carry out work for another PCBU.

An officer is a person who makes decisions, or participates in making decisions, that affect the whole, or a substantial part, of a business or undertaking and has the capacity to significantly affect the financial standing of the business or undertaking. If a person is responsible only for implementing those decisions, they are not considered an officer.

Partners of a partnership are not officers but are PCBUs. An officer of a PCBU must exercise due diligence to ensure that the PCBU complies with their duties under the WHS legislation.

You are considered to be an officer if you are:

Further information

For more information about PCBUs, officers and workers, visit workcover.nsw.gov.au.

Catalogue No. WC03063 WorkCover NSW 0715

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