Employees need to prove that their illnesses are work-related to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits due to the coronavirus.
The coronavirus continues spreading across the United States. Therefore many companies are deciding to shut down operations for a few weeks and deciding between sending their employees home.
However, many employees are still being asked to report to work amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, consequences of this have led to several reported cases of employees getting the coronavirus at their jobs.
This is a great opportunity for business owners to stop and think… Do I have workers comp coverage? Am I covered if another outbreak occurs?!?!?
Here is an overview of what employees need to know about the coronavirus and workers’ compensation:
Under certain circumstances, claims from health care providers and first responders involving COVID-19 may be allowed. Other claims that meet certain criteria for exposure will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
In most cases, exposure and/or contraction of COVID-19 is not considered to be an allowable, work-related condition that’s why in most cases medical testing/surveillance would be required.
Key Facts about the Covid-19 and Workers’ Compensation
- Workers’ Compensation Eligibility Requires a Job-Related Illness or Injury: Simply missing time from work due to an illness (even the coronavirus) does not make an employee eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. To be eligible, an employee must get sick on the job while acting within the scope of his or her employment.
- You Do Not have to Get Sick at Your Normal Workplace: To be clear, however, you do not have to get sick at your normal work to be eligible to receive workers’ compensation. The only question (for these purposes) is whether you were acting within the scope of your employment when you came into contact with the coronavirus.
- *** For example, situations in which employees may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation for the coronavirus (COVID-19) include:
- Traveling for work
- Making a client visit
- Attending a conference for work
- Attending a work-related function or event
- Going to the store for work-related purposes
Your Employer Does Not have to Be at Fault for You to Claim Benefits Another key aspect of workers’ compensation is that it is a no-fault system. This means that your employer does not have to be at fault for you being diagnosed with the coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Most Types of Employees are Covered Under Workers’ Compensation:
Most types of employees are eligible for workers’ compensation. There are some categorical exceptions; but, generally speaking, if you work for a company and get paid a regular wage or salary, there is a reasonably good chance that you are covered.
For example, some types of employees will generally be eligible for workers’ compensation:
- Construction workers and employees in the skilled trades
- Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and other emergency responders
- Health care workers at hospitals, clinics, testing laboratories, and other medical facilities
- Hospice and nursing home caretakers and other personnel
- News and media industry employees
- Professional services employees, including administrators, account managers, and paraprofessionals
- Restaurant and retail employees, including a grocery store and supermarket employees
- Teachers, professors, administrators, and other school personnel
- Travel and hospitality industry employees
- To Recover Workers’ Compensation Benefits, Employees Will Need to Be Able to Prove that Their Coronavirus Diagnoses are Work-Related: As we already mentioned, to recover workers’ compensation for the coronavirus, an employee’s illness must be work-related. However, an issue that many employees are likely to face is the question of proof. As insurance companies get flooded with coronavirus-related claims, they are going to be looking for clear evidence that employees got sick on the job and not somewhere else.
When will a claim likely be denied?
When the contraction of COVID-19 is incidental to the workplace or common to all employment (such as an office worker who contracts the condition from a fellow employee), a claim for exposure to and contraction of the disease will be denied.