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Ignore misleading WorkCover advice

Ignore misleading WorkCover advice

ANMF advises members that a WorkSafe Reference Number provides NO protection in relation to a WorkCover claim.

A number of members have contacted ANMF after being advised that they do not need to lodge a WorkCover claim yet, because their case has been notified to WorkSafe, and they have a ‘reference number’ which will protect them. This is factually incorrect.

The reference number applies only to the employer’s obligation to notify WorkSafe if employees/contractors test positive to COVID-19 and have been on site. It is entirely unrelated to WorkCover claims, and provides no protection nor assurance that if needed, a WorkCover claim will be activated.

To access WorkCover entitlements, members are required to submit a WorkCover claim form, with a Certificate of Capacity completed by a doctor (in the first instance). If the claim is accepted, members will usually have their personal leave reimbursed and medical and like expenses covered for the life of the injury or illness.

ANMF understands that all claims made by healthcare workers, who have contracted COVID-19, have been accepted by the WorkCover insurer.

We also believe that some employers may be suggesting that workers are ‘better off’ not claiming under WorkCover and using their personal leave or some other form of leave whilst they are ill with COVID-19. This is also misleading.

Under WorkCover, an employee who is unable to work or has a limited capacity to work will receive weekly payments which are calculated at 95% of the employee’s Pre-injury/Illness Average Weekly earnings (PIAWE) for the first 13 weeks of payments.  Given that the average weekly earnings used include the base rate of pay, penalty rates and shift allowances, and that personal leave is only calculated at the base rate of pay, there is often very little difference between PIAWE weekly payments and personal leave payments.

An accepted WorkCover claim will provide members with reassurance that any aggravation or recurrence of health-related issues associated with COVID-19, will also be covered in the future by reopening the original claim or referencing it in a new claim.

Given the variability of recovery times and ongoing health outcomes of people who have contracted COVID-19 infection are largely unknown, ANMF strongly encourages all members who contract COVID-19 at work (or suspect that this has occurred) to submit WorkCover claims. We will actively support and advise members throughout the WorkCover process.

It may be an offence for an employer to actively discourage or intimidate a worker into not making a WorkCover claim under the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2013. Please notify ANMF if this has occurred at your workplace.