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Insights

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a new strand of Coronavirus which causes a variety of respiratory illnesses.

Can COVID-19 be considered an ‘injury’?

The contraction of an infectious disease in the course of the worker’s employment has been held to constitute an injury within the meaning of section 4 of the Workers Compensation Act 1987 (NSW).

Whether COVID-19 will be classed as a ‘personal injury’ or a ‘disease’ injury is up for discussion, however it would most likely be classified as a disease injury.

Contracted in the course of employment?

Establishing the virus was contracted solely in the course of the worker’s employment is challenging.

There are times when an employer can direct a worker to be at a certain place, or engage in a particular activity. If the virus is contracted outside of work, an additional claim may arise.

Was work a substantial, or the main contributing, factor?

Compensation for an injury can only be received if there is a connection between the duties the worker performs and the contraction of the virus.

If it is found COVID-19 is a disease injury, a worker must establish that their employment was the main contributing factor to the contraction of that disease.

In a recent case before the Workers Compensation Commission,[1] it was held that the main contributing factor test involves consideration of all causal factors (both work and non-work), and whether the employment represented the main contributing factor.

Summary

A worker is entitled to receive compensation for COVID-19 if they contracted the virus in the course of their employment, and that the worker’s employment was the main contributing factor. Public health professionals who are at the frontline of this pandemic would fall neatly into this situation.

We encourage everyone to exercise all precautions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Kells believes it is important for workers to understand whether they are entitled to receive workers compensation if they contract COVID-19.

Please do not hesitate to contact our compensation team if you have contracted the virus during the course of your employment, and a teleconference can be arranged.

[1] AV v AW [2020] NSWWCCPD 9

 

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