Contracting COVID-19 in the course of employment may constitute a workplace injury and be within workers' compensation schemes.
A recent New South Wales' decision has become the first workers' compensation dispute before an Australian tribunal to award workers' compensation for an employee's death from COVID-19.
The decision is instructive in setting a precedent for the principle that contracting COVID-19 in the course of employment may constitute a workplace injury and as such, form a compensable injury under relevant State and Territory workers' compensation schemes.
It's particularly interesting in light of the current debate surrounding vaccination mandates and may strengthen the argument that mandating COVID-19 vaccines for employees is in accordance with an employer's duty to provide a safe workplace.
It also illustrates the costs businesses could face if their employees contract COVID-19 during work-related activities by opening up the possibility of an award of compensation for incurring such an injury.
Mr Sara's COVID-19 infection
The deceased, Mr Sara, was a dental technician who died in New York in November 2020 from complications resulting from COVID-19. His widow, Mrs Sara, commenced a workers' compensation claim against Mr Sara's employer G & S Sara Pty Ltd.
The New South Wales Personal Injury Commission found that Mr Sara was exposed to and contracted COVID-19 between boarding a flight at Sydney airport and arriving at his accommodation in New York when...
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