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Workers compensation

We are updating this page regularly as the COVID-19 situation evolves. Please check back for updates.

This page was last updated on: 31 Mar 2020

We have prepared frequently asked questions that provide workers, employers, insurers and health care practitioners with information about the impacts of COVID-19 on the workers compensation scheme.

Worker questions

Can I lodge a workers compensation claim if I contracted COVID-19 at work?

If your employment was the main contributing factor to you contracting COVID-19, you should notify your employer immediately.

Your employer will then notify the insurer within 48 hours of receiving notification.

The insurer must commence weekly payments of compensation within seven days of notification, unless they have a reasonable excuse.

If the insurer has not notified you of the decision within seven days, you can contact the Workers Compensation Review Officer (WIRO) for assistance on 13 94 76, through their online complaints form or by email at complaints@wiro.nsw.gov.au.

What will happen to my weekly payments if I can't obtain a Certificate of Capacity?

We understand that it may be difficult to see a doctor on a specific day.

If your doctor thinks it is appropriate, you may be able to access a Certificate of Capacity via a telehealth consultation if you cannot attend the doctors in person. Telehealth consultations occur via either a video conference or telephone conference.

Certificates can be issued for more than 28 days in some circumstances. This may be appropriate when your injury is stable and your capacity is unlikely to change over the period of the certificate.

If you cannot obtain a new certificate by the time your current certificate expires, you should contact the insurer to discuss this with them.

I don’t want to go to the doctor because I am worried that I will catch COVID-19. How will this affect my weekly payments?

You are required to produce a Certificate of Capacity for any period you are entitled to weekly payments.

You may wish to contact your doctor to request a telehealth consultation (videoconference or teleconference consultation) for the review of your certificate if you cannot attend the doctors in person. If your doctor is unable to offer you a telehealth consultation, you can contact the insurer to discuss your concerns.

You can also discuss with your doctor and insurer your options for potentially obtaining a certificate for a period greater than 28 days. The person issuing the certificate will need to provide the special reasons for the longer period and the insurer will need to be satisfied that the certificate should be accepted.

I don’t want to go back to work because I am worried that I will catch COVID-19. How will this affect my weekly payments?

You should speak with the insurer and your employer about any concerns you have about attending work. The insurer may take into consideration factors like:

  • The nature of your compensable injury and your health more generally
  • Whether it is possible to work from home
  • Advice from the NSW Government leaving home and whether certain groups of people (elderly, the young and immune-compromised) should restrict their travel.

However, if the insurer does not believe you are making reasonable efforts to return to work, it may take steps to suspend your weekly payments.

If you need further assistance, you can contact the Workers Compensation Review Officer (WIRO) on 13 94 76, through their online complaints form or by email at complaints@wiro.nsw.gov.au.

I have been on holidays and my employer won’t let me back to work and has told me to self isolate. Who pays my weekly payments?

If you are still entitled to weekly payments you will continue to receive them.

You can discuss with your employer and insurer the details of your return to work and what this will mean for your particular circumstances. You can always contact the Workers Compensation Review Officer for assistance on 13 94 76.

I am a vulnerable person and I want to socially distance myself from the community. How does this affect my weekly payments?

You should speak with the insurer about your concerns. The insurer may take into consideration information and advice from the NSW Government about leaving home and whether certain groups of people (elderly, the young and immune-compromised) should restrict their travel.

You can also speak with  the insurer about SIRA funded programs that may help you with social distancing. For example, the equipment program  may be able to provide you with equipment so that you can work from home.

If you need further assistance, you can contact the Workers Compensation Review Officer (WIRO) on 13 94 76, through their online complaints form or by email at complaints@wiro.nsw.gov.au.

Do I have to attend a medical examination at the request of the insurer?

You should speak with the insurer about any concerns you may have about attending a medical examination. They will be able to advise if any other options are available to you. You can also speak with the medical examiner about what protocols they have in place to protect you.

The law allows insurers to request a worker attend a medical examination. If you unreasonably refuse to attend an examination, your weekly payments may be suspended.

If you need further assistance, you can contact the Workers Compensation Review Officer (WIRO) on 13 94 76, through their online complaints form or by email at complaints@wiro.nsw.gov.au.

I am recovering at work but my workplace has closed down. Am I still entitled to weekly payments?

If you are entitled to weekly payments, you will continue to receive them if your employer is unable to provide suitable work.

You should speak with the insurer about your entitlement to weekly payments and how these will be paid if your workplace has closed down.

Employer questions

How will COVID-19 impact my workers compensation policy?

We are working with insurers to minimise the potential premium impact of workers compensation claims arising from COVID-19 on individual employers. We are considering various options, for example excluding COVID-19 claims from premium calculations.

We have been proactive in managing hygiene and implementation of risk control measures for my staff in the workplace, but I have staff that have reported they have contracted COVID-19 in the workplace. What do I do?

Workers compensation is a ‘no fault’ scheme.

If you have staff members diagnosed with COVID-19 and their employment was the main contributor to them getting the disease, they must notify you.

As an employer you must then inform your workers compensation insurer of any workplace injury you become aware of, within 48 hours.

The insurer must commence weekly payments of compensation within 7 days of notification unless they have a reasonable excuse.

If you have not been notified of a decision within 7 days, you can contact SIRA for assistance on 13 10 50.

What do I do if I've received a workers compensation claim for COVID-19 from one of my workers?

As an employer, you are required to inform your workers compensation insurer of any workplace injury you become aware of within 48 hours.

For the workers compensation claim to be compensable, work activities must be proven to be the main contributing factor to your worker contracting the virus. The insurer will assess each claim on its individual merits.

The insurer must commence weekly payments of compensation within seven days of notification, unless they have a reasonable excuse.

If you have not been notified of the insurer’s decision within seven days, you can contact SIRA for assistance on 13 10 50 or by email at contact@sira.nsw.gov.au

My worker is unable to obtain a Certificate of Capacity because of COVID-19. What do we do?

If the worker’s nominated treating doctor thinks it is appropriate, a Certificate of Capacity can be issued via a telehealth consultation. This type of consultation occurs by either video conference or telephone conference.

If your worker is still unable to obtain a certificate, you should contact the insurer for advice.

I can no longer provide suitable work for my worker recovering from their injury. What can I do?

You should talk to the insurer about what support and assistance may be available to you.

We have also modified some of our programs that support workers and employers with recovery at work in light of COVID-19. More information about these programs is available on our website .

I have employed a worker using the JobCover Placement Program, but I can no longer offer work. What can I do?

If you have had to scale back or close your workplace temporarily due to the impact of COVID-19, the JobCover Placement Program can be put on hold until you are able to resume operations.

This means the duration of the JobCover Placement Program for the worker will be extended by the time employment has been on hold.

You can suggest that your worker contacts the insurer who is managing their claim to advise them of this change.

You should also keep a record of the period you have placed employment on hold to support your claim for incentive payments. This will support your claim when your business re-opens along with the usual proof of payment of wages to the worker.

Insurer questions

Certificates of capacity

Insurers are reminded the legislation allows certificates of capacity to be issued for periods greater than 28 days.

If the person giving the certificate states the special reasons for the longer period and the insurer is satisfied that, for the special reasons stated, the certificate should be accepted, then a certificate may cover a period greater than 28 days (see section 44B of the Workers Compensation Act 1987).

Longer certificates reduce the risk for workers and GPs potentially being exposed to coronavirus. Insurers are encouraged to proactively discuss longer certificates with workers and providers where appropriate.

Health care practitioner questions

Do telehealth services require pre-approval?

Telehealth services require pre-approval from the insurer and must be consented to by all parties – the worker, practitioner and insurer.

What if I can't get to appointments or my provider can't see me?

Due to the potential for COVID-19 to impact a worker’s ability to access and providers’ ability to deliver face to face treatment services we have updated the 2020 Fees Orders. This now provides the ability for medical and allied health professionals to conduct their consultations over the phone in addition to video consultations or any electronic communication to support the delivery of the treatment service.

The updated fees orders were published in the Government Gazette on Friday, 20 March 2020 and take effect from this date.

What if telehealth services are not an appropriate type of service delivery?

Practitioners must consider the appropriateness of this mode of service delivery for each worker on a case-by-case basis.

Practitioners are responsible for delivering telehealth services in accordance with the principles of professional conduct and the relevant professional and practice guidelines to ensure that all care is taken to ensure the safety, appropriateness and effectiveness of the service.

I am concerned about treating my patients within the workers compensation system due to the spread of COVID-19. What measures can I put in place to minimise potential transmission?

To prepare and manage the risk of COVID-19 in your practice, please refer to the advice from NSW Government for information and advice on COVID-19 (coronavirus) for community and businesses in New South Wales.

SafeWork Australia and SafeWork NSW have information available on their websites that provides advice for businesses.

You can also consider providing your patients with telehealth consultations.

If I work in the health industry and contract COVID-19 from a patient, can I lodge a workers compensation claim?

If your employment was the main contributing factor to you contracting COVID-19, you should notify your employer immediately.

Your employer will then notify the insurer within 48 hours of receiving notification of your workplace injury.

The insurer must commence weekly payments of compensation within seven days of notification, unless they have a reasonable excuse.

If you have not been notified of the insurer’s decision within seven days, you can contact the Workers Compensation Review Officer (WIRO) for assistance on 13 94 76, through their online complaints form or by email at complaints@wiro.nsw.gov.au.

I am a doctor and plan to provide treatment via telehealth methods to some of my patients where this approach is appropriate. How do I bill for these services?

The usual consultation items apply for billing. For example, GP’s should utilise the Level A, B, C and D consultations and for medical specialists refer to the AMA List for the appropriate consultation item.

Contact SIRA for support

Our team is here to support you at this challenging time. Please call us on 13 10 50 or email contact@sira.nsw.gov.au if you have any concerns.