I think I contracted COVID-19 at Work. Can I Make a Workers Compensation Claim?
Any worker who believes they have an illness or injury from the workplace should immediately notify their employer and if as a consequence of the illness or injury they suffer a loss (income, treatment expenses) is entitled to make a claim. A virus (like COVID-19) may be considered a disease under the Workers Compensation Act 1987. To receive workers compensation for a disease, a claimant would need to establish that the virus was a “disease” contracted in the course of employment and that employment was the main contributing factor to the contracting of the disease.
Changes to the Workers Compensation Act 1987 mean that for workers in certain employment who contract COVID-19, it will be presumed that the worker contracted COVID-19 in the workplace. The types of employment include:
- the retail industry (other than businesses providing only online retail)
- the health care sector, including ambulance officers and public health employees
- disability and aged care facilities
- educational institutions, including pre-schools, schools and tertiary institutions (other than establishments providing only on-line teaching services)
- police and emergency services (including fire brigades and rural fire services)
- refuges, halfway houses and homeless shelters
- passenger transport services
- courts and tribunals
- correctional centres and detention centres
- restaurants, clubs and hotels
- the construction industry
- places of public entertainment or instruction
- the cleaning industry.
Workers must have worked in the employment in the 21 days prior to their diagnosis with COVID-19. The presumption will not apply if it can be proved the worker contracted COVID-19 in another way.
The employer should notify their workers’ compensation insurer within 48 hours. If the employer’s insurer does not accept the virus as a compensable “injury” or “disease,” affected workers should access their leave entitlements in the usual way and may be able to claim compensation later.
Each compensation claim would need to be considered on its merits and in accordance with the legislation. For viruses, an insurer may consider issues including (but not limited to):
- Work-related travel to an area with a known viral outbreak
- Work-related interactions with people who have contracted the virus
For further information contact the team at Walker Law Group we are experts in Workers Compensation claims. Talk to our Lawyers today 1300 363 013