Since COVID-19 restrictions ended in 2022, more and more businesses are mandating that their employees return to work.
The Commonwealth Bank is one of the latest companies to order their workers back to work. In mid-July 2023, it mandated that workers spend at least half of their working hours on-site.
Though COVID-19 cases are dwindling, NSW health statistics show that the virus is still very active.
In the week to September 23, 2023, there were 2333 new COVID cases, with 625 hospitalisations and 21 deaths.
With testing clinics now mostly closed, these statistics are unlikely to give a true picture of COVID-19 in the community.
With more workers now returning to work, they run the risk of contracting the virus in the workplace.
Catching COVID-19 can constitute an injury under the workers compensation legislation entitling you to compensation.
To be eligible, you must be able to show you contracted the virus in the course of your employment and your work activities must be proven to be the main contributing factor to contracting the virus.
Due to the nature of viruses, identifying how and when you contracted the virus can be difficult.
Back in May 2020, the NSW government introduced legislation that automatically presumes certain workers contracted COVID-19 in the workplace.
This group of workers is large and comprises hospital staff, paramedics, police, firefighters, teachers, court staff, construction workers and people working in the hospitality, entertainment, retail, healthcare, funeral, and cleaning industries.
For workers in other industries, you will still need to prove you contracted the virus at work.
Compensation for workplace COVID-19 includes lost wages and medical expenses, and potentially a lump sum compensation and a damages claim for pain and suffering and/or loss of earnings if you experience ongoing symptoms such as 'long COVID'.
To make a claim, you'll need a certificate of capacity from your doctor to prove your diagnosis and information from your employer and doctor that show your job was the main contributing factor in catching COVID-19.
For example, a roster showing you worked during the incubation period.
If your worker compensation claim is declined, we can assist you. There are no legal costs payable as these costs are covered by the NSW government much like Legal Aid.
For more information phone Turner Freeman Wollongong on 4220 5250 or go to turnerfreeman.com.au/office/wollongong.