Contracting Covid-19. Do I have a claim under Workers Compensation?

Written by Sean Landis

As Sydney sits through its second lockdown with the aim of lowering the current rates of community transmission, contracting Covid-19 is a genuine fear for essential workers. Catching the virus is not only worrying from a health perspective. Forced quarantine during recovery can mean the loss of livelihood and financial instability for those who rely on their income to pay rent, bills and groceries.

Hence the raising of an important new legal question – Is contracting Covid-19 an injury for the purposes of Workers Compensation legislation?

Workers Compensation legislation

Workers Compensation protections have indeed been expanded in response to the pandemic. If you contract Covid-19 and you are an essential worker working in one of the following industries, there will be no requirement for proving causation. Changes to the Workers Compensation Act mean that it will simply be presumed you caught the virus at work.

  • the retail industry (other than businesses providing only on-line retail)
  • the health care sector, including ambulance officers and public health employees
  • disability and aged care facilities
  • educational institutions, including pre-schools, schools and tertiary institutions (other than establishments providing only on-line teaching services)
  • police and emergency services (including fire brigades and rural fire services)
  • refuges, halfway houses and homeless shelters
  • passenger transport services
  • libraries
  • courts and tribunals
  • correctional centres and detention centres
  • restaurants, clubs and hotels
  • the construction industry
  • places of public entertainment or instruction
  • the cleaning industry.

This can be negated if it can be proved you caught the virus from another source, or if you were not at work in the 21 days prior to being diagnosed.

When assessing your claim, an insurer might consider work-related travel to an area with a known viral outbreak and work-related interactions with people who have contracted the virus.


If you have contracted Covid-19 and you believe this is due to your working situation, you may have grounds for a claim under Workers Compensation legislation. Once you have contracted Covid-19, you should inform your employer immediately. Your employer will then have 48hrs to contact their insurer who will then have 7 days to reply either accepting or denying liability. If the insurer does not respond or you do not understand their response, you should contact IRO at

For more information, contact IRO at or get in touch with a lawyer.

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