Essential employees in NSW to lose COVID-19 compensation protection

The state government plans to repeal the automatic compensation rights for essential workers under section 19B of the Workers Compensation Act 1987.
By: | November 16, 2021

This means essential workers will need to prove they contracted COVID-19 at work and were not infected in the community.

Premier Dominic Perrottet said the law should be repealed now that more was known about COVID-19 transmission to ensure businesses were not “hit with an unexpected spike in their insurance bills”. He said as the economy reopens, “we want businesses investing in new staff and higher wages, not inflated insurance bills”.

Minister for Digital and Customer Service Victor Dominello said without changes, the scheme could be hit with more than 25,000 extra claims with an average increase in insurance premiums of A$950 (US$696).

Opposing the repeal, Unions NSW secretary Mark Morey said the policy change was “harsh, heartless and unnecessary”. “Any savings to the government will be tiny, but the impact on individual workers will be massive,” he said. “The most affected workers will be those who are putting themselves in harm’s way … overwhelmingly these will be women.”

READ: Low wage workers to benefit from Australia’s new superannuation laws

Greens MP David Shoebridge said the changes introduced last year were designed to protect frontline workers like nurses, teachers, bus drivers and retail staff. “It’s next to impossible to prove you caught COVID at work rather than at home or on public transport getting to and from work – that’s why these laws are there to protect frontline workers,” he said, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.