Labor and unions have criticised a NSW government plan to roll back a special COVID-19 protection for workers as harsh, unnecessary and "a stab in the back".
Premier Dominic Perrottet intends on scrapping a provision in the state's Workers Compensation Act allowing for the presumption that frontline workers who test positive caught the virus while on duty.
The government estimates keeping the protection could invite 25,000 extra claims over the next 12 months, forcing insurance premiums up by an average of $950.
COVID-19 claims could cost the workers compensation system as much as $638 million over the coming year.
The NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association says its members, who are at heightened risk of exposure from patients, visitors and other colleagues in their workplaces, are outraged by the move.
General secretary Brett Holmes said upper house members of parliament received more than 24,800 emails from public sector nurses and midwives over the weekend, begging them to block the government's planned repeal. A further 590 emails were sent to lower house MPs.
"Despite their efforts to go above and beyond for the past 22 months, essential workers who are infected with COVID-19 will face significant hurdles if this repeal goes ahead," Mr Holmes said in a statement on Monday.
"Yes, they can make a workers compensation claim, but if they are forced through a disputed claims process it could be months before they get an outcome, or a long time without any income if they're a casual worker," he said.
"Our health and aged care sectors have relied heavily on these workers during the pandemic and now they're being left to fend for themselves against their employers and their insurer, icare.
Business groups however welcomed the removal of the provision as it means it won't be so easy for workers in retail, healthcare, hospitality and other frontline industries to file compensation claims if they fall ill.