Timely and sensible winding back of NSW COVID workers comp provisions

“The NSW Government’s proposal to introduce legislation this week to wind back the workers compensation presumed liability provisions for COVID-19 is timely and sensible,” Helen Waldron, NSW Head of the peak employer association Ai Group said today.

“The presumptive liability provisions introduced in July 2020 are no longer appropriate given the widespread opening of the economy and free access to vaccination for COVID-19. When introduced, the provisions went further than any similar laws in Australia or indeed anywhere else in the world.

“It is time to revert to the normal principles for workers compensation liability for COVID under which workers will still be able to claim for work-related infection.

“The 2020 amendments were a product of the pandemic and restrictions prevailing at the time. They were included in a tranche of Emergency Provisions Bills covering a raft of short-term adjustments to statutory provisions to overcome problems created by the push to eliminate the virus.

“The public health strategy, risks of exposure and vectors of transmission for COVID-19 have all changed substantially since July last year.

“To continue to hold employers in some industries automatically responsible for an employee’s COVID-19 infection is no longer sustainable. It is not fair and defies common sense to assume in those sectors that COVID-19 is overwhelmingly likely to have been caught at work.

“To continue the presumed liability provisions risks significant unfair financial stress on the workers compensation scheme and employers in the industries covered by the s19B presumption.

“The provisions are estimated to cost over $600 million in the coming year, falling on many sectors struggling to recover from the pandemic hit.

“We urge all parties to support the legislation when introduced,” Ms Waldron.

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