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Frontline workers face new barriers to workers compensation

17 Nov 2021

Workers who are exposed to Covid-19 will now face additional barriers to accessing vital support and compensation

Hunter Workers condemns the new planned changes to workers compensation announced by the NSW government on Sunday, which will hit frontline and essential workers in the Hunter Region hardest.

The changes will mean frontline workers will be forced to jump through hoops to qualify for workers compensation if they catch Covid-19 at work.

Last May the Workers Compensation Act 1987 was amended in response to the growing coronavirus pandemic.

The amendments meant it was automatically assumed that a Covid-positive worker had contracted the virus while on the job in key frontline and essential industries like healthcare and hospitality.

The amendment repeal will hurt workers with “long Covid” worst, who will need prove to insurers they caught the illness at work all whilst battling sickness and using up their sick and unpaid leave.

However, all workers who are exposed to Covid-19 will now face barriers to accessing vital support and compensation.

The NSW government has a history of failing injured and sick workers seeking compensation.

Set up by current NSW premier Dominic Perrottet, state insurer iCare has a history of scandals and mismanagement that have left workers seeking compensation worse off.

In 2020 an investigation found iCare underpaid 52,000 injured workers by up to $80 million.

In 2019 a report from the State Insurance Regulation Authority (Sira) found the insurer was under-resourced and incompetently managed, leading to incorrect weekly payments and failures in its automated claims management system that led to half of all claims being incorrectly classified.

Quotes by Leigh Shears, Hunter Workers Secretary:

“Our frontline Hunter workers kept our critical services running in the Hunter over the pandemic, and now the NSW government has chosen to make the lives of those essential workers affected by Covid even more difficult.

Accessing workers comp is hard enough as it is. Yet the government has chosen to prioritize big business at the detriment of sick workers.”

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