Workers compensation: Your rights and entitlements when diagnosed with COVID-19

23/04/2020

By Rachel Schutze, Principal Lawyer, Injury Law department, Gordon Legal

If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 as a consequence of your work, you are entitled to pursue your rights and entitlements for workers compensation through the WorkCover system.

Below, we answer practical questions about your rights and how to pursue workers’ compensation insurance whilst in a pandemic and self-isolating. 

For more information on how your current claims will work throughout the pandemic, click here.

What is considered a workers’ compensation injury?

Injuries that are eligible for WorkCover can include physical injuries, diseases or psychological conditions. If you were acting within the scope of your employment at the time of acquiring the injury, then it will probably be considered a workplace injury, and be covered by workers’ compensation.

Can I lodge a WorkCover claim if I am diagnosed with COVID-19?

Yes, if you believe that you have contracted COVID-19 as a consequence of your work, you can lodge a WorkCover claim.

It is essential that you advise your employer that you are unwell, arrange testing to occur if recommended by your Doctor and if diagnosed with COVID-19, you need to inform your employer.

Once diagnosed it is likely that you will be contacted by representatives of the Department of health and asked many questions about the contact you have had with others prior to be diagnosed and whether you have knowledge of being in close proximity of someone diagnosed with COVID-19.

The nature of your employment will be essential to the question of whether you will be able to have an accepted WorkCover claim.

Who qualifies for workers compensation?

Each WorkCover claim will be assessed on an individual basis. For the claim to be accepted, the worker must demonstrate that the “nature of the employment gave rise to a significantly greater risk of the worker contracting the disease than had the worker not been employed in employment of that nature”.

What will be important in the insurer’s consideration of my WorkCover claim?

We anticipate that factors which demonstrate exposure to COVID-19 in the course of your employment will be most relevant. It will be helpful to have the following information (if relevant to your circumstances) on your claim form:

  • Do you work in employment which causes you to come into contact with people suffering from COVID-19?
  • Do the building, shared spaces, corridors, staff amenities etc of your workplace cause you to come into contact with people who have been diagnosed with, or have been exposed to people who have been diagnosed with, COVID-19?
If I have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and I am self-isolating, how do I get a WorkCover claim form?

We recommend that you contact your employer’s Human Resources team and ask them what method they are willing to accept. Claim forms can be filled in online, and in these circumstances we anticipate that employers will not object to receipt of the claim form by email. 

If you are emailing a claim form to the email address designated by your employer, please ask that they confirm receipt of the claim form. You should keep a copy of the email, as that will become the date from which the time for assessment of the claim commences.

The law requires that you be provided with a response to your claim within 38 days of it being lodged.

If the Human Resources team is not able to assist you with a method for lodgement, contact Worksafe Victoria on 03 9641 1555.

I am at home and self-isolating. How do I obtain a Certificate of Capacity to lodge with my WorkCover Claim?

Call your GP and discuss with the Practice Manager how they are managing WorkCover consultations. Worksafe has introduced temporary access to Telehealth consultations with medical practitioners. Your treating practitioner will be able to access Telehealth codes for processing of payment from the Worksafe website.

What if my WorkCover claim is rejected?

If your WorkCover claim is rejected, please contact your union or Gordon Legal for answers about the compensation you deserve. We can provide information that will assist you to dispute the decision through the Accident Compensation Conciliation Service (ACCS) process.

What to do if this information applies to you

At Gordon Legal, we understand that WorkCover claims are personal, and can assist with any concerns regarding claims and how they are affected by COVID-19. For personalised and individual legal advice, we offer consultations to discuss your matter.

Please call Gordon Legal (Melbourne) on 03 9603 3000 or our Geelong office on 5225 1600 to speak with a member of our team.

Given the current environment, we are providing consultations over the phone, Zoom, WebEx or Skype.

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