Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Employees Who Contract COVID-19?
Dan Levenson October 13, 2020
Workers’ compensation benefits provide employees with protection for work-related injuries and illnesses. In most states, workers’ compensation insurance is required by law.
COVID-19 exposure is a new concern in the workers’ compensation realm, and it is not always clear if employees who contract Covid-19 are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. The answer depends on the state where you are located, the line of work you are in, and how it was contracted.
How Workers’ Compensation Works
Each state has its own policies regarding COVID-19 and workers’ compensation coverage. Generally, workers’ compensation benefits pay for medical care necessitated by a work-related injury or illness and pays a portion of an employee’s regular work wages while the worker is out.
Work-Related Injuries and Occupational Illnesses
In most cases, work-related injuries are easier to assess than work-related illness. Work-related injuries include burns, cuts, strains, sprains, repetitive motion conditions, broken bones, and the like. Workers’ compensation benefits cover a broad range of such injuries and most cases receive approval if a medical professional confirms the injury.
Occupational illnesses are those that result from exposure to working conditions. They often include lung disease, respiratory illness, and cancer. The important factor is whether the illness results from work duties or exposure at work. For example, if you work in a coal mine and develop black lung, it is highly likely the condition is work-related.
However, it is often difficult to prove that a common illness, such as Covid-19, the flu or a cold, resulted from exposure at work.
COVID-19 as an Occupational Illness
Many jurisdictions are extending workers’ compensation coverage to include workers whose essential job function requires exposure to COVID-19.
For example, under New Jersey law an “essential employee” who contracts Covid-19 is presumed to be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. This means that in New Jersey, essential employees like hospital workers, public safety officers, and grocery store workers are usually entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if they contract the virus.
If an employee is not an essential worker or lives in a state without a law like the one in New Jersey, then the employee may need to prove they contracted the virus in the course of their employment before workers’ compensation coverage will apply.
Contact Us for Insurance Coverage
To stay compliant with the law most businesses need workers’ compensation coverage. InsureYourCompany.com assists businesses in their search for the most affordable and suitable insurance policies. We have been in business for nearly 20 years and have helped thousands of businesses.
Whether you are a new business or looking to reduce your premiums, contact us with your questions about workers’ compensation. We will explain the benefits your business needs and provide a free no-obligation quote.