The global outbreak of the novel coronavirus has brought a lot of uncertainty for billions of everyday workers around the world – none more than medical professionals on the front lines. It may also create some unique legal issues for these workers, potentially leading to disputes regarding workers' compensation.
For that reason, nurses and paramedics across Australia are now pushing for changes to workers' compensation laws that currently leave them in a potentially difficult spot if they come down with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Currently, the rules for claiming workers' compensation require these workers to definitively prove they contracted the virus while working, and not while they went about their lives outside of work.
Through 10 April, more than 110 workers' compensation claims have been filed across the country, but about 1 in every 10 have been denied. There is currently a bill being considered to exempt all essential workers from such requirements, especially as it would be difficult – or even impossible – to provide proof that exposure to the virus was definitively work-related.
"Apart from the stress of getting COVID, that would be a big relief not to have to prove you got it from work and be compensated properly for it," intensive care unit nurse Wing Besilos told the newspaper.
More specifically, even if those workers could prove their exposure came directly from their jobs, the process of actually claiming workers' compensation because of the current rules would likely be protracted, Mirage News reports. But if the law were to change as proposed, workers not just in health care – but also education, retail, transport and more – could potentially claim compensation without the current onerous requirement of proof, helping to cover lost wages, medical bills and even death benefits for those infected with COVID-19.
All told, such a change would allow hundreds of thousands of people to have easier access to workers' compensation. This is why lawmakers are working diligently to ensure the law gets passed sooner than later.
To help you navigate the potentially complicated process of making a workers' compensation claim, rely on the experts at Gerard Malouf & Partners. Get in touch today to learn more about the options that may be available to you in this trying time.