Managing risk

Can employees claim workers compensation for COVID-19?

Is it possible for an employee to put in a workers compensation claim if they get COVID-19? What is an employer’s liability? Read on to find out more.

A worker can put in a workers compensation claim if they feel they became sick, injured or diseased during, or caused by, employment. COVID-19 is likely to be considered under the disease provisions of the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (Cth) (SRC Act). For a disease to be covered, it must be contributed to, to a significant degree, by the employee’s employment (section 5B of the SRC Act).

Each Australian state has slightly differing worker compensation schemes. For example, to be eligible for compensation in Western Australia, a worker must contract COVID-19 in the course of employment. Employment must also be a significant contributing factor to the contraction of the disease.

As COVID-19 exposure can occur in a public setting, the exact time and place the virus was contracted can be tricky to ascertain. It may be difficult to determine that employment was a significant contributing factor. 

Each workers compensation claim would need to be considered individually to assess the circumstances and evidence.

Keeping workers safe

Employers can keep their workers safe and minimise the risk of contracting COVID-19 by: 

  • Keeping up to date and implementing the government health guidelines, travel restrictions and advising workers to self-isolate for 14 days (specified on government health site) if they are a close contact with anyone confirmed to have COVID-19
  • Promoting COVID-19 vaccinations
  • Assessing current and new hazards, engaging workers in identifying and implementing risk controls
  • Communicating good hygiene practices for workers such as frequent hand washing to protect against infections
  • Sending workers home that is not well, and
  • Reviewing policies and measures for infection control, including educating workers on best practices.

State COVID-19 information

Further COVID-19 resources

The guidance provided is general in nature. The guidance has been prepared without taking into account your specific objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any guidance, you should consider the appropriateness of the guidance regarding your objectives, financial situation and needs. Before making any decisions, it is important for you to consider these matters and to seek appropriate legal, health or other professional advice.

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