Essential Services Workers are among those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic which also continues to affect the lives and well-being of everybody in the community. While many of us have been off work or working from home, in quarantine or self-isolation there have been many others who have had no choice because they have a job at the front line (such as health care workers) or essential services workers (such as school teachers or prison guards).
In New South Wales, if a worker suffers an injury – including a disease – arising out of, or in the course of their employment, they normally have to prove this by producing medical evidence that the injury or disease was so caused. This can be costly, time-consuming and may delay making and pursing a claim.
The New South Wales government has sensibly amended the Workers Compensation Act to allow persons in ‘prescribed employment’ who have contracted Covid-19 to bring a workers compensation claim by deeming the disease to have being caused by their employment, once it is diagnosed. Prescribed employment types include workers in health care, disability and aged care, first responders (ambulance, police and fire brigade personnel); educational institutions (pre-schools, schools and universities), refuge centres, correctional and detention centres.
Tragically some essential services workers have already contracted Covid 19 while at work. At least, it will now be easier for them to bring a claim for compensation.