COVID-19 in the workplace

STAYING AT HOME: Personal injury lawyer Kellie Knowles joins many Australians in working from home in response to COVID-19.
STAYING AT HOME: Personal injury lawyer Kellie Knowles joins many Australians in working from home in response to COVID-19.

Kellie Knowles is a local associate lawyer at Stringer Clark Ballarat with extensive experience in WorkCover, transport accidents and injuries in public places. Kellie shares insights on making a WorkCover claim if injured working from home or contracting.

Are there WorkCover benefits if contracting COVID-19 at work or get injured working at home?

It's a good question, especially as it seems likely that many people will continue to work from home, even after the threat of the coronavirus recedes.

First, here's the good news. WorkCover should continue to cover you should you be hurt or injured at home, and so you should be able to claim benefits.

But only if you were injured in the course of doing your paid work. Let's look more closely at this.

Paid or "home" work?

To make a claim you need to prove you suffered injury during the course of your employment.

When working from home the line between being at work and being at home can easily blur. Think about hanging out the washing in between work calls, or maybe you are doing both at the same time.

So, depending on when and how you were injured, determining whether the injury occurred while you were "at work" may get complicated. These types of cases can end up before the courts to be decided.

Already injured?

If you already have a bad back, for example, and you suffer further injury to your back at work, the test to get your claim accepted is more demanding. To get a claim accepted, you need to prove that your work significantly contributed to the further injury.

This test is not always easy to satisfy and there is a range of criteria that the courts consider when answering this question.

Simple steps

If you suffer an injury while working at work or home, you should notify your employer immediately. You'll also need to fill out a Claim Form at worksafe.vic.gov.au/resources/workers-injury-claim-form.

Make sure your doctor completes a Certificate of Capacity for your weekly payments. If you suffer permanent injury, you could also be eligible for lump sum compensation. Stringer Clark can advise you about your possible entitlements.

Can I make a WorkCover claim if I have the coronavirus?

It depends. To make a WorkCover claim for COVID-19 you would need to provide evidence of a diagnosis and prove that your employment contributed significantly to you contracting the disease, and it was not contracted through general community transmission.

If you were to contract COVID-19 through a workplace infection outbreak or cluster, you are likely to have a strong case for establishing a WorkCover entitlement.

As most WorkCover issues can be complex, it's worth giving us a quick call at Stringer Clark on 1800 641 743 so we can give you some initial advice on the best way forward.

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