The Covid-19 pandemic has created an exceedingly difficult situation for policymakers regarding whether or not infected employees are able to receive workers’ compensation benefits, which could include medical treatment, lost wages, and in severe instances, death benefits. Each state has its own unique policies that vary depending on industry standards and requirements, including the worker’soccupation, the size of the employer and the company’s structure.
Does workers’ compensation cover Covid-19?
Workers’ compensation generally does not cover community-spread illnesses because the origin of contamination cannot be linked to the workplace. In some cases, illnesses can be covered if the employee developed it from exposure to hazardous environments. One of the difficult issues with the Covid-19 pandemic is that many occupations that were not considered hazardous in the past are now much more dangerous to employees. Examples include many essential jobs like bus drivers, doctors, nurses and even grocery store workers. There has been action taken here in Ohio, which is currently going through the legislative process, to attempt to include several different occupations to be eligible for Covid-19 related workers’ compensation benefits, including:
- First responders
- All essential workers
- Healthcare workers
- Food processing workers
- Corrections officers
How are states responding to Covid-19?
All states are taking some sort of action to extend workers’ compensation to certain types of workers, most commonly first responders and healthcare workers. These actions include amendments in which Covid-19 infections are presumed to be work-related illnesses. Opponents to extending workers’ compensation benefits to employees who contract Covid-19 argue the additional costs associated with benefits will fall on the employers and insurance companies, which are already feeling financial stress from the pandemic. Currently, 14 states have already extended workers’ compensation coverage to include Covid-19 cases.
Covid-19 has changed many aspects of our lives, and workers’ compensation coverage is no different. The way coverage is extended varies state by state, and most changes are still in the process of being made. If you have tested positive for Covid-19 and believe to have contracted it at work, please reach out to our team. Our attorneys are fighting to make sure that essential workers are receiving the benefits they deserve during this pandemic!