Your COVID-19 workers compensation insurance questions answered
Published 07 April 2020
As the Australian business community faces the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, business owners, managers and human resources (HR) teams are also tackling the ongoing responsibilities to workers and protecting our workplaces.
Even with new arrangements to work off site, employers must still comply with relevant work, health and safety (WHS) and workers compensation (WC) legislation.
Here the Gallagher Workplace Risk team provides comprehensive answers to frequently asked questions as workplaces shift to new ways of working.
Here is a summary of the key questions and answers:
Can a worker lodge a compensation claim for COVID-19?
Yes, in a similar way to any other workplace injury or illness, a worker can lodge a COVID-19 compensation claim via a completed lodgement form and a valid Workers Compensation Certificate of Capacity to the insurer or relevant authority. If your people are working remotely you need to ensure they know how to report work-related incidents, lodge a new claim or manage existing claims. We can help you provide this information.
How can a worker prove COVID-19 was work related?
Unless there has been a sustained outbreak at a specific work location it’s likely to be difficult for a worker to prove they caught the virus as a result of their working conditions. With COVID-19 the time, date and place that the disease was contracted are frequently unknown or unclear unless there is a strongly established link.
What stay at work/return to work strategies are important to assist injured workers during the response to COVID-19?
As an employer you still have an obligation to provide safe work duties so you need a management plan that enables this in terms of working from home and performing appropriate tasks. Flexible solutions could include online work, training or job sharing, and your plan needs to include practical measures and communications with your people to facilitate this. Again, our Workplace Risk team can help you with formulating an actionable and compliant plan.
How does COVID-19 impact a worker with a currently approved claim? Workers with approved claims will still receive their entitled benefits while they are unable to perform work duties. Any return to work arrangements need to be amended to provide for work from home or safe location options, as outlined above.
What are good business practices related to managing ill/sick workers and personal leave?
You need to provide clear and transparent communications about how your people can claim their entitlements, and instructions for applying for leave. While your business is operating with employees working remotely this information should be both distributed individually as well as saved in a location with easy access for everyone in your organisation. Maintain your workers compensation insurance cover as this still applies to all your employees wherever they’re working.
To the extent that any material in this document may be considered advice, it does not take into account your objectives, needs or financial situation. You should consider whether the advice is appropriate for you and review any relevant Product Disclosure Statement and policy wording before taking out an insurance policy.