The workplace risk team of Gallagher Australia has been busy providing much-needed guidance amid the crisis-induced shift towards new ways of working.
In a new blog post, the insurance broker stated: “As the Australian business community faces the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, business owners, managers, and human resources (HR) teams are also tackling the ongoing responsibilities to workers and protecting our workplaces.
“Even with new arrangements to work off site, employers must still comply with relevant work, health, and safety (WHS) and workers’ compensation (WC) legislation.”
Gallagher referred to frequently asked questions in its bid to offer clarity during this confusing time. Among them is whether a worker can lodge a COVID-19 compensation claim.
“In a similar way to any other workplace injury or illness,” noted the company in response, “a worker can lodge a COVID-19 compensation claim via a completed lodgement form and a valid Workers’ Compensation Certificate of Capacity to the insurer or relevant authority.
“If your people are working remotely you need to ensure they know how to report work-related incidents, lodge a new claim, or manage existing claims.”
As for proving that COVID-19 was work-related, Gallagher conceded that it’s likely to be difficult for a worker to prove they caught the coronavirus as a result of their working conditions, unless there has been a sustained outbreak at a specific work location. It doesn’t help that details such as the time, date, and place that the disease was contracted are often unknown or unclear.
In terms of the current work scenario, the broker issued this reminder: “As an employer you still have an obligation to provide safe work duties, so you need a management plan that enables this in terms of working from home and performing appropriate tasks.
“Flexible solutions could include online work, training or job sharing, and your plan needs to include practical measures and communications with your people to facilitate this. Again, our workplace risk team can help you with formulating an actionable and compliant plan.”
Meanwhile Gallagher said workers with approved claims will still receive their entitled benefits while they are unable to perform work duties. It added that employers will need to provide clear and transparent communications about how entitlements can be claimed as well as instructions for applying for leave.
“While your business is operating with employees working remotely, this information should be both distributed individually as well as saved in a location with easy access for everyone in your organisation,” advised Gallagher. “Maintain your workers’ compensation insurance cover as this still applies to all your employees wherever they’re working.”