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Covid Australia: Why a sneaky law change is VERY bad news for staffers who catch Covid at work NSW

Some workers could be left penniless if they catch Covid and can’t prove they caught it at work after a quiet U-turn by the NSW Government.  

Premier Dominic Perrottet plans to reverse a law change, brought in at the start of the pandemic, which let almost all staff who caught Covid claim workers’ compensation.

Now sick workers will need to to prove they caught the disease on the job to access the cash – or face going unpaid and broke when their sick leave runs out.

With ‘long Covid’ sufferers facing months bedridden, critics warn the law change plans, announced without fanfare on Sunday, could leave many without a cent.

But the premier insists the move is vital to be fair to employers and insurance companies.

Some workers could be left penniless if they catch Covid and can’t prove they caught it at work after a quiet U-turn by the NSW Government. (Picture, a bar worker at Crown Sydney)

‘Now that the economy is steadily reopening, we want businesses investing in new staff and higher wages, not inflated insurance bills,’ Mr Perrottet said on Sunday.

The government plans to repeal Section 19B of the Workers Compensation Act 1987 which automatically assumed all Covid victims were infected at work.

It covered hospitality, entertainment and retail sector, healthcare, emergency services, corrective services, courts and tribunals, childcare and construction industries and others. 

Workers’ compensation will cover up to 80 per cent of an employee’s wage until they recover, and award families up to $1million if the victim dies from the disease.

Now sick workers will need to to prove they caught the disease on the job to access the cash - or face going unpaid and broke when their sick leave runs out. (Pictured, construction workers in Newcastle)

Now sick workers will need to to prove they caught the disease on the job to access the cash – or face going unpaid and broke when their sick leave runs out. (Pictured, construction workers in Newcastle)

But now all staff will need to prove conclusively that they contracted the virus while working. 

Even with the vaccine rollout, one report predicts up to 12,000 employees will suffer Long Covid symptoms for up to seven months and unable to work full-time.

Another 6,000 are expected to be unable to work at all. Those who can’t prove they were infected on the job could now face financial disaster.

But the government insists the changes are vital, with NSW facing a $638million bill in workers compensation this year according to modelling by the Doherty Institute. 

The NSW Government warns the scheme would face 25,000 claims this year without the changes, and businesses would see insurance policies hiked up by $950. 

Even with the vaccine rollout, one report predicts up to 12,000 employees will suffer Long Covid symptoms for up to seven months and unable to work full-time. (Pictured, a hair stylist in Sydney's Surry Hills)

Even with the vaccine rollout, one report predicts up to 12,000 employees will suffer Long Covid symptoms for up to seven months and unable to work full-time. (Pictured, a hair stylist in Sydney’s Surry Hills)

‘There is nowhere else in the world with automatic workers compensation rights due to COVID-19 that are as broad as those in NSW,’ Minister for Digital and Customer Service Victor Dominello said. 

‘Removing automatic entitlements will not remove a worker’s right to make a claim if they contract COVID-19 as a result of their employment. This right is retained.’ 

Treasurer Matt Kean said the change would save NSW business more than half a billion dollars in insurance premium increases.

‘Small businesses have been hit hard enough by COVID-19 restrictions over the past two years, so now would be the wrong time for them to be slugged with a massive, unexpected insurance premium increase,’ Mr Kean said.

Premier Dominic Perrottet (pictured centre, with treasurer Matt Kean, left) insists the move is vital to be fair to employers and insurance companies

Premier Dominic Perrottet (pictured centre, with treasurer Matt Kean, left) insists the move is vital to be fair to employers and insurance companies

‘If the NSW Government doesn’t repeal this amendment, we risk losing jobs just as our recovery is gaining momentum across our State.’

Premier Perrottet added: ‘When the NSW Government originally made the amendments, we had little information about how COVID-19 was spread and whether it was more likely to be contracted in workplaces, and we certainly didn’t have a vaccine rollout.

‘Now we know more about COVID-19 and its transmission, amendments under Section 19B of the Act must be repealed so the workers compensation system is both fair to employees and ensuring businesses aren’t hit with an unexpected spike in their insurance bills.’

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Read more at DailyMail.co.uk