Update: COVID-19 Workers Compensation presumption expanded to include additional categories of employment

  • COVID-19
  • Published 29.07.2020

Key Takeaways

On 14 May 2020 the COVID-19 Legislation Amendment (Emergency Measures – Miscellaneous) Act 2020 No 5 (‘the Act’) came into force.

Under the Act, workers who contract COVID-19 while employed in a prescribed category of employment are presumed to have done so in the course of their work unless the contrary is established.

On 24 July 2020, the Workers Compensation Amendment (Consequential COVID-19 Matters) Regulation 2020 (‘the Amendment’) took effect and extends the COVID-19 workers compensation presumption to include additional categories of prescribed employment.

New Amendment

Under the Amendment the presumption now also applies to employment in any of the following:

  • Cafés
  • Supermarkets
  • Funeral homes
  • Child care facilities

These employment categories are in addition to the following types of prescribed employment under the Act:

  • The retail industry (excluding purely on-line businesses)
  • The health care sector, including public health employees
  • Police and emergency services
  • Firefighters (including rural fire services)
  • Ambulance officers
  • Educational institutions, including pre-schools, schools and tertiary institutions (other than establishments providing only on-line teaching)
  • The cleaning industry
  • The construction industry
  • Restaurants, clubs and hotels
  • Disability and aged care facilities
  • Refuges, halfway houses and shelters
  • Passenger transport services
  • Courts and tribunals
  • Correctional and detention centres
  • Places of public entertainment or instruction (including cinemas, museums, galleries, cultural institutions and casinos)
  • Any other type of employment that may be prescribed by the Regulations

Implications

The presumption was first set out in the Act which came into force on Thursday, 14 May 2020.

The Act inserted a new s19B into the Workers Compensation Act 1987 which specifically relates to COVID-19.

s19B(1) provides that if a worker contracts COVID-19 during a time when the worker is engaged in prescribed employment, then for workers compensation purposes, it is presumed (unless the contrary is established) that the disease was contracted by the worker in the course of the employment and the employment was the main contributing factor to contracting the disease (or, for exempt workers such as firefighters, paramedics and police officers, employment was a substantial contributing factor to contracting the disease).

For a more detailed discussion of the Act, its implications and the remaining uncertainties, please refer to our previous TurkAlert here
 

Miriam Browne

Special Counsel

P: 02 8257 5869

Email Miriam

Corinna Cook

Special Counsel

P: 02 8257 5702

Email Corinna