Ask Shaye: Winding back
I see from Association updates last year that the NSW Government was trying to remove the presumption and prescribed worker category. Is that still being pursued?
The NSW Government, in a very tight vote, was successful in passing an amendment in the Lower House late last year removing the prescribed worker list and presumption that COVID-19 transmission occurred in the workplace. And why? This is what the NSW Government said itself in the parliament:
“The amendment proposed by the bill is aimed at ensuring the sustainability of the workers compensation scheme by minimising premium increases for employers and ensuring a more consistent customer experience for policyholders, workers with an injury and other stakeholders of the workers compensation scheme … The most significant driver of the anticipated cost is the legislative presumption, which has the potential to turn a large volume of COVID-19 cases into workers compensation claims.”
In other words, we wouldn’t want to make it too easy for frontline workers to make such claims, we want to keep costs down for employers instead, and somehow making claims so much harder to prove will make for an improved customer experience. Maybe, but certainly not for workers.
The good news is that the Upper House has sent the proposed amendment to an Inquiry. So, a slight reprieve till later this month when the Committee hands down its findings and there is a vote in the Upper House. Our message to the premier and health minister; it is not too late to show some respect and common decency for health, aged care and disability care workers. Scrap the amendment!
* The above general advice is targeted to our members who work in prescribed employment and are covered by NSW legislation. It does not apply to workplaces under the Comcare (self-insured) system. Family members or friends not in such employment would need to seek alternative advice regarding their rights if transmission in their workplace is suspected.