Can I claim compensation if I contract COVID-19 at work?

Explore how to make a workcover claim for contracting COVID-19 in the workplace.

With workplace injuries, a connection to the workplace is key to being eligible for a workers compensation claim. With COVID-19 prevalent in the community and workplace, the question of whether compensation is payable will largely depend on proving the virus was contracted during the course of employment.

Do I need to prove that I contracted COVID-19 at my place of work?

The rules differ by jurisdiction. When COVID-19 hit New South Wales, the parliament amended the law to make it easier for workers in certain industries to claim workers compensation for COVID-19. 

These industries include healthcare, disability and aged care, educational institutions (unless online only), emergency services, shelters, transport, libraries, courts and tribunals, prisons, detention centres, hospitality, construction industry, public entertainment or instruction and cleaning. 

Workers in these industries only need to show that they tested positive for COVID-19, and the law presumes that it was contracted at work. However, the NSW government has announced these rules may soon be repealed, so this protection might not last much longer.

If a worker can’t rely on these rules, they will need to prove COVID-19 was contracted at work.

How can I prove that I contracted COVID-19 at my place of work?

Anyone who contracts COVID-19 in the course of their employment should be eligible for workers compensation. To prove that you contracted COVID-19 at your workplace, you will need to provide clear evidence that indicates this. 

COVID-19 can be contracted through many ways in the workplace but depending on the industry, the connection to the workplace may be easy or hard to prove. Industries like healthcare, for example, may be easier to prove, especially when it can be established that the worker travelled to a high risk area.  

You may contract COVID-19 in the workplace through:

  • Interaction with other infected staff or the public
  • Contaminated surfaces and objects 
  • Lack of regard for government recommendations on social distancing rules

Diarising the timeline of events will be helpful to illustrate the time of COVID-19 contraction and its connection to your workplace. You should speak to your treaters about having genomic testing done on your virus, as in some cases this may provide crucial evidence.

Any form of evidence that can illustrate the connection will be crucial. At the end of the day, the workers compensation insurer will make a decision based on whether they think it is more likely than not that you caught COVID-19 at work.

Workers compensation lawyers can help you gather further evidence to challenge the insurer should they unfairly deny your claim, and may be able to help you obtain lump sum compensation.

What is the process to lodge a claim for contracting COVID-19 at work?

The rules differ by jurisdiction. In NSW, you should inform your employer immediately. Do so in writing and keep a copy. 

Your employer should provide you with a Certificate of Capacity that your treating doctor will fill out. You should also fill out a Workers Injury Claim Form. You can also get these forms from the SIRA website.

Your workers compensation insurer should then be in contact to confirm or clarify any details. They must issue a determination in writing.

How much can I claim for contracting COVID-19 at work?

There are no special entitlements for contracting COVID-19 in the workplace. As with any ordinary workers compensation claim, you should be entitled to weekly benefits to cover most of your income until you are able to return to work. You should also be covered for medical, hospital and rehabilitation expenses.

You may also be entitled to return to work assistance, however it will depend on the circumstances of your claim. 

Many COVID-19 patients suffer permanent health issues as a result of their infection. If this happens to you, you may be entitled to a claim for lump sum compensation once the extent of your disability is known.

Every case is different so speaking to a workers compensation lawyer will assist you in ensuring you are paid your entitlements as per the workers compensation legislation.

The workers compensation lawyers at Masselos & Co can assist at any stage of your claim journey. Book in a free consultation today and put your mind at rest. 

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