Workers Compensation Act action welcomed

The repeal of section 19B of the NSW Government’s Workers’ Compensation Act (NSW) 1987 has been welcomed by a number of industry groups.

ClubsNSW, Australian Hotels Association NSW, Restaurant and Catering Australia, NSW Pharmacists Association, NSW Minerals Council and Tourism Accommodation Australia NSW said chapter 19B places an unfair burden on businesses. The department assumes that an employee diagnosed with COVID-19 may have contracted the virus on the job, even if they have been infected in a public place or in the presence of a family member or friend.

John Whelan, CEO of AHA NSW, said: “The workers compensation scheme exists to provide support to employees who have been injured or become ill during their employment – ​​not a universal safety net that compensates people for falling ill in the ordinary course of their lives. .

“If the cancellation decision is passed, an employee who can detect contracting COVID at the workplace still has full access to a workers’ compensation claim. This strikes a fair balance for employees and employers.”

The assumption in NSW goes beyond what would apply in any other Australian or international jurisdiction, and industry groups are particularly concerned about the lack of an expiration date for section 19B.

Josh Landis, CEO of ClubsNSW, said: “It is impractical for businesses to prove that an employee has contracted COVID-19 outside of the workplace, effectively making them liable for incidents with no connection or fault.

“Chapter 19B will cause insurance premiums to skyrocket and put undue financial pressure on businesses that are still trying to get back up after a long period of shutdown.”

NSW Health has multiple tools for employees to trace their diagnoses back to their workplace, including case alerts and requirements for employers to monitor and report COVID-19 diagnoses among employees.

“All business owners support their employees when they are sick or unable to work. But this current arrangement will only serve bankrupt insurers who help keep workers in the first place,” said Wes Lambert, CEO of Restaurant and Catering Australia.

“If that happens, we don’t see how any long-term support could be provided to those in need.

“The safety and health of employees is at the forefront of every venue operator’s mind. Reform in this area is absolutely essential to achieve this.”

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