In May 2020, an amendment was made to the Workers Compensation Act 1987 inserting a new section – Section 19B ‘Presumption’
“This presumption means that if a worker contracts COVID-19 it is automatically presumed that the disease was contracted in the course of the employment and therefore that worker has automatic access to workers compensation,” said Business NSW Chief Executive Daniel Hunter.
“Of course, Business NSW acknowledges the huge strain that all our essential workers, from aged care, clinical health to logistics and retail, have taken throughout the pandemic,” Mr Hunter said.
“It’s important to note when this legislation was passed, it was a sound idea, which could work when there was almost no transmission and complete contact tracing.
“However, our recent Omicron survey found that ‘business confidence and perceptions are not good right now’ and that ‘40% of businesses reported they don’t have enough cash flow for the next three months.
“Omicron is a public health challenge, and this is just another way to load small businesses with potential hikes in insurance premium increases and administration costs when these costs are rising, driven by global factors - faster than we have seen in decades.
“The administration costs alone take hours for every claim, by those very people already under huge strain.
“We cannot put the ongoing costs of living alongside a pandemic onto the strained ledgers of our small and local businesses, and we cannot add more stress onto the families that run them.
“It is important to note that workers will always retain the right to make a workers compensation claim if they can prove they contracted COVID-19 at work,” Mr Hunter said.