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Workers' Compensation in the Wake of COVID-19

As cities and companies begin to reopen, people will return to work. When they do, they fully anticipate that they will return to their families at the end of the day, safe and sound. This is often an unspoken agreement between employee and employer because everyone should be provided with a safe environment to do our jobs to benefit ourselves and the economy. If the unfortunate does occur and you’re injured or fall ill, there are safeguards in place, and one of the most important is worker’s compensation.

You have likely heard of this policy at work, but this is usually compensation given when an employee slips, trips or is hurt by machinery while on the job. While that is still a concern, we now live in a new world with a new threat in the form of the coronavirus. Does worker's compensation come into play if you get sick on the job? What is the employer's responsibility? Let's look at a few facts.

What is Worker's Compensation
The purpose of worker's compensation is to protect employees and the employer if someone is injured or gets sick at work. Because work is one of the places with the most germs, employees are more susceptible to illnesses such as coronavirus while there. Thus, it is beneficial to the employee to be covered by worker's comp because it can help pay for medical expenses and disability. At the same time, it also helps the company because they can avoid more costly lawsuits that could cripple their business. It is important to remember that worker's comp will only cover injury or illness that originates in the workplace.

While employers need to keep employees safe, it is up to the worker to inform their manager or HR department that they were injured or they are feeling the effects of COVID-19. Remember that common symptoms include a high fever, fatigue, and loss of taste or smell, among others. If you have an issue, go immediately to your supervisor and provide a detailed account of where you were and what you are feeling.

Once your report is made with your employer, they will file a claim, and it will go to the insurance company. After a review, it will be approved or denied. If it is approved, there will be a legal process that will likely result in a settlement, which is much easier than going to court, which can be a lengthy process. Most of the money received will be for medical costs and living expenses until you are healthy enough to return back to work.

Compensation and COVID-19
As far as the coronavirus is concerned, this is a new threat that we are still trying to understand, but it is a threat nonetheless, so it is still the employer's responsibility to keep you safe if possible. At this point, there is not much on the books about worker's compensation covering COVID-19 issues, but discussions have started, and this will likely be an issue for the unforeseeable future.

Since many businesses are reopening, Kentucky and Illinois have taken fast action and released orders that state that if an employee who works at an essential business contracts the coronavirus, it is assumed that they got it while at work. The definition can be a bit murky, but essential businesses are typically establishments that sell required goods, like grocery stores, pharmacies, daycare centers, and services, including garbage collection.

As this is new territory, it is unclear if the orders will stand, but the message should be shared that employees have rights, and if they are put in danger due to the environment at their job, they should get assistance. If the worker's compensation route is not working, then there is also the chance that you can get some justice by working with a lawyer. Either way, if you feel symptoms, alert your employers immediately.

Employer Responsibilities
Murky waters or not, it will fall on the shoulders of the employee to make the case that they got sick while at work. There are not any Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements about this as of yet, but you can begin to make a case if you feel that your employer is not providing the proper protection to keep you and your coworkers safe. While they are not always required, the Center for Disease Control and OSHA have put out safety guidelines that companies should follow to avoid as much danger of illness as possible.

The CDC has put many guidelines in place that start with encouraging employers to have daily health checks, including temperature screenings, when the employees get to work. If an employee states that they feel symptoms or feel sick in general, they should alert their employer, and they should be sent home. They also recommend the active practice of social distancing of being at least six feet apart from others.

At OSHA, they have also put out guidelines on how to prepare a workplace in the wake of the coronavirus. They state that the employer should provide access to hygiene products, including tissues, hand soap, sanitizer, and no-touch trash cans, while also having signage that requires hand washing after using the restroom. On top of that, they suggest that companies have a disease response plan that would include what work processes should be reduced or eliminated if an outbreak does occur, and there is a reduced staff.

Although there is still some work to do to have COVID-19 covered under worker's compensation, there is a legitimate argument for its inclusion. As a worker, be aware of your surroundings and speak up if you feel that your health may be at risk.

Posted by Magnolia at June 24, 2020 4:00 PM
Comments
Comment #456734

this is reality in this pandemic situation il all over world and everyone is fighting with COVID-19

Posted by: simran patel at June 25, 2020 8:10 AM
Comment #456745

INFORMATIVE

Posted by: lyricsbroker at June 25, 2020 12:37 PM
Comment #456886

I am really happy to find useful information Wish you all the best.

Posted by: Lesa Cote at June 30, 2020 6:15 AM
Comment #457031

really helpful article thanks

Posted by: tarun patel at July 4, 2020 3:41 AM
Comment #457046

UPSC

Posted by: utsav at July 4, 2020 3:24 PM
Comment #457360

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Posted by: Hamza Khan at July 12, 2020 9:18 PM
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