When the COVID-19 pandemic hit NSW, the NSW Parliament began passing emergency legislation.
In May 2020, the NSW Greens successfully amended the Workers Compensation Act such that prescribed workers (including police) who contracted COVID-19 would be presumed to have contracted COVID-19 in the course of their employment, assisting them to access Workers Compensation entitlements.
Without that presumption, police who contract COVID-19 would have to prove that the exposure happened at work. That could be incredibly difficult to do, and if they were unable to do so, they would not be covered under Workers Compensation for their time off work or medical expenses.
The NSW Government recently introduced Amendments to repeal that presumption.
You can view the Workers Compensation Amendment Bill 2021 here.
In the Legislative Council, the Opposition and Cross Bench successfully delayed the legislation, referring the Amendments to the Legislative Council Portfolio Committee No. 1 – Premier and Finance for Inquiry.
The PANSW will be advocating strongly to save this protection for police.
The December Issue of PANSW Police News shows the terrible and life threatening situation a police officer who contract COVID-19 faced. Alongside the health risks of contracting COVID-19, a police officer would also have to spend time off work, and incur medical expenses, which might be a significant burden on them financially.
It would be completely unacceptable if an officer in that situation was forced to prove they contracted COVID-19 in the course of their work as a police officer, and worse still, be denied Workers Compensation if they could not. Doing so might be practically impossible.
The PANSW will fight to ensure that does not happen.