The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has welcomed the introduction of legislation to the NSW Parliament to amend the Workers Compensation Act. The amendment would remove the assumption that any worker with Covid caught the virus at work.
Changes to the Act were made at the beginning of the pandemic, when very little was known about Covid. It assumes people catch the virus at work, triggering automatic workers compensation entitlements.
Retail businesses in NSW, including small businesses, would be exposed to $78.8 million in claims if the assumption is not repealed, according to Doherty Institute modelling.
“With the economy opening back up and greater freedoms restored, it makes sense for the Workers Compensation Act to be updated,” says ARA CEO Paul Zahra.
“The assumption that anyone with Covid caught the virus at work is now outdated, given what we now know about the virus and with NSW now one of the most vaccinated jurisdictions in the world.”
Under the proposed changes, workers will still be entitled to make a workers compensation claim if they contract the virus at work. All this legislation does, says Mr Zahra, is remove that assumption, “which is a common-sense move that should be supported by all parties”.
“Retailers are looking forward to a further easing of Covid restrictions next month and are ramping up their operations for the all-important Christmas trading period,” Mr Zahra says.
“We need businesses focussed on maximising their trading potential, and not worrying about higher insurance costs.”