How to claim workers’ comp if you get COVID-19 at work

At the start of the pandemic, the Workers’ Compensation Act 1987 (NSW) was amended to make it easier for some workers who contract COVID-19, including those who work in preschools, schools and tertiary institutions, to quality for workers’ compensation benefits.

The amendment has a presumption that workers in educational institutions, who were working when they contracted COVID-19, contracted COVID-19 in the course of their employment. This makes it easier to establish that their work activities were the main contributing factor to contracting COVID-19, and therefore easier to claim workers’ compensation.

Members of the IEU who have COVID-19, confirmed by a PCR test, should see their doctor so the relevant workers’ compensation forms can be submitted to the employer for the period they had COVID-19. This is to ensure they have access to relevant workers’ compensation benefits such as weekly payments for time off work, medical expenses and lump sum payments for any permanent impairment caused.

Members who suffered COVID-19 in the past but have not claimed workers compensation may use evidence such as a PCR test receipt or their doctor’s records to make a claim. Generally, workers’ compensation claims must be made within six months of the injury; however, this may be extended up to three years if there is a reasonable cause for the delay.

Ninety-five per cent of an employee’s income is covered by the employer’s insurance. The IEU urges employers to ‘top up’ the remaining 5 per cent. Catholic systemic employers have done so in the past. Non-systemic schools have varied in their approach.

Members are urged to call the IEU for information specific to their circumstances.

James Jenkins-Flint Organiser