Media Releases

WA health unions welcome legislation to close COVID-19 workers’ compensation loophole

Wednesday June 24, 2020

  • Australian Medical Association (WA) (AMA (WA))
  • Health Services Union WA (HSUWA)
  • United Workers Union (UWU)

The AMA (WA), HSUWA and UWU today welcomed the introduction of legislation into the WA Parliament which will provide essential protections for healthcare workers should they contract COVID-19.

The WA Government’s COVID-19 Response Bill will remove COVID-19 related barriers from the Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Act 1981 and provide a presumption of work-related injury for health care workers who contract COVID-19 and claim workers’ compensation.

Currently if a healthcare worker is infected with COVID-19, it is up to them to prove it was contracted at work to receive compensation.

The amendments will ensure workers are now presumed to have contracted the virus at work should they test positive. This will reduce the burden on the healthcare worker and enable them to access workers’ compensation that they are rightly entitled to.

The commitment from the Western Australian Government today will provide important assurance and support to our healthcare workers across the State.

Collectively the AMA (WA), HSUWA and UWU represent tens of thousands of health care workers across WA, many of whom have been at the frontline of battle against COVID-19.

Quotes attributed to AMA (WA) President Dr Andrew Miller:

“The WA Government, indeed all Members of Parliament and the community, have shown great cooperation and support for healthcare workers in our State’s response to COVID-19 over the last few months.

“In that spirit we welcome the Government’s commitment to amend this legislation and we urge all our Parliamentarians to support the changes and pass the Bill quickly.

“Despite our low number of COVID-19 cases and community spread, as we can see from the tragedy around the world the danger is still very real and present, and we must prepare for the worst while hoping for the best results from our combined efforts.

“All health workers will through this change feel more protected in their own workplaces as they care for our community, and others are more likely to be able come to help at a time of workforce shortage when conditions like workers’ compensation are properly sorted out.”

Quotes attributed to HSUWA Secretary Naomi McCrae:

“This is a vital step to protect our health workers in Western Australia.

“Ensuring access to the safety net for these essential workers if they are infected with COVID is the right thing to do.”

Quotes attributed to UWU Public Sector Co-Ordinator Kevin Sneddon:

“The proposed changes to the workers compensation legislation by the McGowan Government are a welcome recognition of the risks taken every day be health workers, particularly during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

“The Government should be applauded for its initiative and we hope that these common-sense changes receive the backing of all the political parties.

“Victoria reminds us that we haven’t beaten COVID-19 and it is imperative that these changes are enacted whilst we have a moment of relative calm in WA.

“Any delay by Parliament would be a kick in the teeth for workers at the front line of keeping our communities safe.”

Media Contact: AMA (WA) – 0407 986 308 | media@amawa.com.au