AMA and police oppose repealing workers’ compensation cover for COVID

In its submission to the review, the association said that police and other essential workers had not been unable to work remotely or socially distance when performing essential duties and personal protective equipment was “not a guarantee of safety”.

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”For example, if a police officer gets to the end of a long week at work in which they have interacted with many members of their community, often in conditions in which social distancing and PPE is not possible to rely on effectively. They have also done their grocery shopping and spent time with their family and friends. They start to feel ill and are tested, and receive a positive result.

“As circumstances stand today, it would be incredibly difficult to ascertain when and where that officer had been a contact of a positive case, and which contact was the cause of the transmission.

“[I]t is inescapable the government wants essential workers to foot the bill instead; to contract COVID-19 but be unable to access the support they need under workers’ compensation, so that workers compensation costs can be avoided,” the submission said.

Earlier this week the NSW government relaxed isolation rules for asymptomatic healthcare staff and other critical workers deemed close contacts of COVID-19 cases.

The federal government and business groups are pushing for a relaxation of the isolation rules for a broader group of essential workers to help keep supermarket shelves stocked and businesses open.

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Greens MP David Shoebridge said the state government was moving to strip essential workers of compensation rights at a time when they were at a greater risk of infection.

“Overworked healthcare and essential workers are at the frontline protecting the community, bearing the brunt of the government’s failure to prevent or plan for this massive surge in cases, and now they risk being shafted on compensation protections too,” he said.

“Frontline workers have protected us throughout this pandemic, the least we can do is support them if they get COVID.”

Minister for Customer Service and Digital Government Victor Dominello said removing the presumption will not prevent workers who contract COVID-19 at work from making a workers’ compensation claim to receive compensation while they recover.

“As we move to living with the virus, and it becomes endemic in the community, this repeal means that COVID-19 will be treated in the same way as every other workplace injury or acquired illness,” he said.

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