Wallsend MP Sonia Hornery says front-line workers who catch COVID-19 will be forced to use sick leave or annual leave if the government succeeds in changing workers compensation laws.
The government is attempting to remove a section of the Workers Compensation Act which presumes that employees who test positive have caught the virus in their workplace and are entitled to workers compensation.
The provision covers a range of industries, including health, education, retail, aged care, transport, police, hospitality and construction.
The amendment bill passed narrowly through the NSW lower house on Thursday morning and will now go to the Legislative Council.
"This puts the onus back on workers to prove where they contracted COVID," Ms Hornery said. "Are they supposed to do their own genomic sequencing?"
Property Council NSW executive director Luke Achterstraat welcomed the bill's progress.
He said modelling suggested the existing Act could lead to an extra 25,000 workers compensation claims a year.
"Just as our knowledge of the virus has advanced, so too should our policy response," he said.
Mr Achterstraat said workers who contracted COVID-19 in the workplace would be no worse off.
"It is critical to recognise that workers who contract COVID-19 in the workplace will still be eligible to make a claim," he said.
"The amendment is about removing an automatic assumption in the Act that will have unintended consequences."
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