NSW to repeal alleged COVID workers compensation clause

An amendment to the Workers’ Compensation Act 1987 introduced to protect workers from catching COVID-19 in their work will be repealed by the NSW government, but a few conditions remain in place.

Section 19B of the law was introduced in May last year during the early days of the pandemic and was designed to ensure that workers could file a workers compensation claim if they caught the viruses in the normal course of their duties, such as hotel quarantine workers. . The wording of the law has been changed to interpret that if workers contracted the virus, the presumption would be that they did so at work.

Now, with the opening of the state and the return of hotels to their normal functions, the law will be rebalanced to ensure that it is again fair to employers and employees and to ensure that it does not There is no increase in insurance premiums suffered by companies.

The Premier of New South Wales, Dominic Perrottet.

Employees will still be able to make a claim if they catch the virus at work, but contact tracing will determine close contact and whether transmission has occurred in the normal course of an employee’s duties. Without the change, it was estimated that employers could have been charged an additional $ 950 in their annual insurance premiums.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said the amendment is expected to save businesses more than half a billion dollars in insurance premiums, which will not happen again.

“Now that the economy is gradually reopening, we want companies to invest in new staff and higher wages, not inflated insurance bills,” the prime minister said.

“When the NSW government initially made the changes, we had little information on how COVID-19 had spread and whether it was more likely to be contracted at the scene. work, and we certainly didn’t have a vaccine rollout. “

The revised wording will remove the presumption and see COVID claims traced to whether the transmission actually occurred at work.

Despite the change, new modeling from the Doherty Institute estimates that COVID-19 claims could cost NSW’s workers’ compensation system up to $ 638 million over the coming year.

“With this presumption removed, workers can still make claims and insurers can focus on good claims handling practices,” Finance and Small Business Minister Damien Tudehope said.

Tourism Accommodation Australia CEO Michael Johnson said hotels in NSW have been hit hard by COVID-induced closures and restrictions.

“These changes will restore balance and fairness, rather than hitting hotel accommodations with multi-million dollar premium increases,” Johnson said.

An amended bill to repeal Section 19B will be presented to the New South Wales Parliament this week.

Peter M. Doran