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Contracting COVID-19 at work: health impacts and compensation

Over 30,000 people in Australia have contracted COVID-19 (as of mid 2021). Outbreaks are continuing to emerge in Australia despite the national vaccination rollout effort and infection control measures in place. The crisis is far from being resolved. Employers have a duty to minimise the risk of COVID-19 at work. However, lists of COVID-19 exposure sites demonstrate the presence of elevated infection risk in the workplace. Occupational infection has been a feature of the pandemic, and has resulted in 1,222 COVID-19 related workers’ compensation claims in Australia during 2020 (Safe Work Australia). Internationally, several workers’ compensation policies have undergone changes such as presumption laws for contracting COVID-19 in specified types of employment, and there could be additional development on claims as long-term health consequences from COVID-19 become apparent. This project will involve evaluating national and international approaches to support people contracting COVID-19 at work. Two primary research themes will include: (1) Financial support for workers with COVID-19: - Compensation available for workers, and other relevant payments, - Terms and conditions for eligibility, - Death benefits. (2) Evidence on the long-term consequences of (severe) COVID-19: - Chronic illness, - New symptoms following a period of recovery, - COVID-19 as a comorbidity. Findings from this project will build upon a strong program of research addressing work-related issues during the COVID-19 pandemic, and also have the potential to influence the policies of workers’ compensation insurers and regulators. The student will be part of a team of researchers working on similar projects in a very collegiate environment and a multidisciplinary team.
Essential criteria: 
Minimum entry requirements can be found here:
COVID-19; physical health; mental health; workers' compensation
School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine
Available options 
Short projects
Joint PhD/Exchange Program
Time commitment 
Physical location 
553 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne (adjacent to The Alfred)

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