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NSW Parliament Passes Significant Workers Compensation Protection for Essential Workers Who Contract COVID-19

NSW Parliament Passes Significant Workers Compensation Protection for Essential Workers Who Contract COVID-19

Published on May 18, 2020 by Elizabeth EdgarElizabeth Edgar

The NSW Parliament has moved to deliver new protections for a wide range of essential workers at risk of contracting COVID-19 in the course of their duties.

On 14 May 2020, the COVID-19 Legislation Amendment (Emergency Measures – Miscellaneous) Bill 2020 [NSW] was passed by both houses of Parliament.

The legislation means Nurses, Paramedics, Teachers and other essential workers now do not need to prove where they contracted COVID-19 when making a workers compensation claim in New South Wales. This will be a welcome relief to some of the 250 workers who have already lodged COVID-19 related workers compensation claims in NSW[1].

The changes extend to include a variety of industries including health, education, hospitality, entertainment, construction and retail.

The change potentially covers hundreds of thousands of workers across the state.

Greens MP, David Shoebridge told Parliament on Wednesday:

As the law currently stands, workers who contract COVID-19 … (have) to prove that work was a substantial contributing factor to that disease.  For that worker, the legal challenges in proving that are quite significant.

How, for example, does the nurse prove that it was contracted at work rather than on a bus journey on the way to work, or when he or she was attending the supermarket to get the groceries?”[2]

NSW Minister for Customer Service, Victor Dominello, supported the Greens amendments, saying “this is sensible reform that will provide them with peace of mind and protections in their hour of need.”[3]

Despite the changes, an employer will still have the opportunity to prove a COVID-19 infection did not happen during the course of the worker’s employment if there is a compelling case.

The amendments will provide medical assistance and wage cover to workers who are unable to work as a result of COVID-19. For dependents of essential workers who have died from COVID-19, they will be entitled to bring a claim for death benefits.

If you or someone you know has contracted COVID-19 and is unable to work as a result, contact Carroll & O’Dea Lawyers by completing our Client Enquiry form below.

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