The Victorian Labor Government must immediately ensure that frontline workers are protected by workers compensation during COVID-19, to avoid any claims being unfairly rejected.
Nurses, teachers, retail and other workers have an elevated risk of contracting COVID-19, and yet if they fall sick they may face drawn-out legal arguments to prove that they caught the disease at work rather than on public transport or while grocery shopping.
When Victorian Parliament resumes on Thursday for an emergency sitting this week, the Victorian Greens will introduce a bill to ensure all frontline workers have workers compensation cover throughout the pandemic.
The bill would guarantee that any frontline worker who falls sick will receive compensation, regardless of whether or not they can prove the virus was contracted at work. They could then receive lost wages and medical expenses.
Leader of the Victorian Greens, Samantha Ratnam, said frontline workers around the state were risking their safety to do their jobs and that it was critical for the Government to provide them with certainty.
Leader of the Australian Greens, Adam Bandt, added that frontline workers were most susceptible to contracting the virus and, if sick, shouldn’t have to jump through legal hoops to prove whether or not it happened in the workplace.
As stated by Leader of the Victorian Greens, Samantha Ratnam MLC:
“We owe it to our frontline workers to provide them with certainty that they can claim compensation rights if they contract COVID-19.
“Every teacher, emergency worker, cleaner, medical staff, transport worker and retail worker is putting their health and safety on the line for us, and so it is critical that they’re supported. Our bill will allow frontline workers to claim compensation rights without having to prove that they contracted the disease at work.”
As stated by Leader of the Australian Greens, Adam Bandt MP:
“Many of Australia’s most essential workers don’t have the ability to work from home and as frontline staff they’re often most at risk of contracting coronavirus.
“We’re flattening the curve but there are still thousands of workers who have caught coronavirus and who now face the uphill battle of not only recovering, but maintaining an income.
“The severe symptoms of COVID-19 mean that many people will be recovering for months, if not years. We need to make sure these workers have what they need to look after themselves through the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression.”