Having to experience high numbers of COVID-19 cases, as businesses reopen there are concerns over the impact in the event that a staff member contracts COVID-19 in the workplace. So, what does the current legislation mean for business owners?

The NSW State Insurance Regulatory Authority outlines the current presumption amendment as follows:

After contracting COVID-19 the worker makes a claim through their workplace’s insurer, accompanied by medical evidence. The insurer determines whether the worker is in a “prescribed employment” and determines whether the presumption applies.

If this is confirmed, the worker is deemed “incapable of work” for a period of 21 days. If the worker continues to test positive after 21 days, the period of leave is extended. During this time, weekly payments are made by the employer’s insurer.

The NSW Government has specified that an employee cannot assume an automatic claim, however, workers retain the right to make a claim should they believe they acquired the virus at work.

The NSW Government has announced it will be repealing Section 19B of the Workers Compensation Act, 1987. Emergency changes were made to the Act on the 14th of May 2020 in response to the Coronavirus outbreak. The change meant that should an individual working in a sector that required face-to-face interaction with the public acquire COVID-19, the presumption would be that they contracted the virus in the workplace unless other evidence could be furnished.

Minister for Digital and Customer Service Victor Dominello stated that the Workers Compensation Scheme could be hit with more than 25,000 additional claims as the nation opens up, increasing small business insurance premiums by $950.