The peak body representing NSW doctors has welcomed a move to oppose legislation requiring frontline workers to prove they caught COVID-19 at work to receive compensation.
A section was added to the Workers Compensation Act in May 2020, providing a presumption that certain workers in frontline industries who catch COVID-19 were infected at work and should be supported through workers compensation.
A bill seeks to have that section removed, and would ask health workers to provide proof of their infection.
But a NSW upper house committee on Monday tabled a report recommending those changes be rejected.
Australian Medical Association NSW president Danielle McMullen has welcomed the recommendations, saying doctors had already faced a "gruelling two years" and the changes would cause further strain.
"Medical practitioners and frontline workers in the health system face a high risk of exposure to COVID-19 on a daily basis," she said.
Asking medical professionals to prove they had caught the virus at work placed an "additional burden and stress on workers who have already made a lot of sacrifices to protect the health and safety of Australians", she said.
"Medical workers have faced a gruelling two years and shifting the financial burden of COVID-19 from government and employers onto workers would erode goodwill from the profession."
The AMA said the presumption frontline workers caught COVID-19 at work should stay in place for another year and has suggested the scheme be extended to health workers employed as contractors.
The recommendation for the upper house to reject the bill came after an inquiry by the Premier and Portfolio committee.
"There was little common ground between those supporting and opposing the bill," committee chair Tara Moriarty said in the report.
The committee heard from peak bodies in business, industry, property, hospitality and retail that were key supporters of the bill, as well as unions and peak bodies in medicine and education who opposed it.
Premier Dominic Perrottet has previously said the legislation was passed at an early stage of the pandemic and NSW was the only state with the presumption in place.
Mr Perrottet told Question Time on Wednesday the government ultimately wants "to provide protection for our frontline workers" and will work with the crossbench in the upper house "if there are ways we can improve that legislation".
But there was also a need to support businesses and "not put onerous provisions in place".
Australian Associated Press
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