By Libby Roberts, Workplace Rehabilitation Management
Industry is experiencing rapid change and Workers Compensation programs have been particularly impacted through recent legislative changes, policy adjustments due to COVID-19, and WHS developments. These changes may significantly impact your business.
NSW legislation change for front line workers
The COVID-19 Legislation Amendment (Emergency Measures – Miscellaneous) Act 2020 No 5 (‘the Act’) came into force on Thursday, 14 May 2020.
The Act introduces a presumption for certain categories of workers that, in the event they contract COVID-19, their disease will be compensable unless the contrary is established.
This means that for workers who were working in prescribed employment at the time they contract COVID-19, it is presumed that their injury is compensable under the Workers Compensation Act 1987, unless evidence can be obtained to rebut that presumption.
Managing COVID Premium Impact and Job Keeper Payments
There are many possible implications of COVID on premiums and businesses may choose to get expert advice related to COVID premium impact and job keeper payments. Some key areas to be aware of include:
- Whether Job Keeper payments will be included in remuneration
- Premium reductions available
- Whether claims arising during COVID-19 will be premium impacting
- If a worker is stood down due to COVID-19, will they be entitled to Workers Compensation benefits
- Whether Job Keeper benefits included are ‘prior earnings’ when assessing entitlement for a new claim.
Making your workplace COVID safe
All workers have the right to a healthy and safe working environment. The COVID-19 pandemic requires a uniquely focused approach to work health and safety (WHS) as it applies to businesses, workers and others in the workplace.
Implementing and adhering to recommended guidelines is required.
Registering as a COVID Safe business is mandatory for hospitality venues such as cafes, restaurants, food and drink premises, micro-breweries, cellar doors, casinos, registered clubs, small bars and casinos. For other types of businesses, registration is optional but recommended.
Three Steps To Becoming a COVID safe business
Step 1 – Complete a COVID-19 Safety Plan
COVID-19 Safety Plans help to protect your staff, customers and visitors as you get back to business. Some businesses will need to complete a COVID-19 Safety Plan under the public health orders, but you can also voluntarily complete one.
There are different plans for different industries, and they all provide advice on:
- hygiene and safety
- physical distancing
- recording contact details of staff and customers
- staff well being.
When you’re completing your plan, consult with your staff, and share it with them when it’s done.
You can download a COVID-19 Safety Plan for your business from https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/covid-safe-businesses
Step 2 – Register as a COVID Safe business
As a COVID Safe business, you’ll be able to show customers that you’re committed to keeping them safe. You can register online after you have completed your COVID-19 Safety Plan.
When you’ve registered, you’ll get:
- digital COVID Safe badge for use on Google and social channels
- posters on safety and hygiene
- reports on how your customers rate your business safety
Under the Public Health Orders it is mandatory for some types of business to complete a COVID-19 Safety Plan and register as a COVID Safe business. For other types of business it is mandatory to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan, and optional to register.
Any business found in breach of the Public Health Orders could face a penalty of up to $55,000 and a further $27,500 penalty may apply for each day an offence continues.
On-the-spot fines can also be issued.
Step 3 – Show that you’re COVID Safe
- Download and display your COVID Safe posters and make your customers feel confident
- Consider using a contactless method such as a QR code to collect customer details for contact tracing
- Share your completed COVID-19 Safety Plan with your staff to ensure their wellbeing
- Display your COVID Safe badge on your digital and social channels such as Facebook and Google Maps
- Train new workers to act in a COVID Safe way
- Keep your plan up-to-date when there are changes to the rules.