The coronavirus is, as we all know, a health crisis that our country hasn’t previously faced. There are workers on the front line who are exposed to the community spread of COVID-19. Many of these hard-working men and women are working in large groups, handling packages and using equipment often without gloves, masks or other protective gear to protect them from this disease.
The question is whether someone, while in the course and scope of their employment, becomes sick as a result of COVID-19, is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits? The short answer is yes.
The issue of qualifying for workers’ compensation, if exposed to COVID-19, is really whether a person’s work requires him/her to be in crowded spaces, and whether we can prove that the virus was contracted while a person was working.
Three (3) things must be met:
1) The employee is exposed to the disease by reason of his/her employment;
2) The disease is casually related to the employee’s industry or occupation;
3) The occurrence of the disease is substantially greater in that industry/occupation than it is in the general public.
Since we are in uncharted territories with COVID-19, we continue to learn every day the virus’ impact on workers’ rights and potential benefits. The first thing that employers should be doing is providing adequate safety measures to union members so that everything is done for their protection.
If you do contract the virus, and you believe it is arising out of your employment, please contact our office so that we can give you counsel as to how to proceed. We can help you and your family with all workplace or disability issues, including workers’ compensation, employment matters, Social Security disability, long- and short- term disability.
We proudly stand with unions and organized labor. We hope that you and your families stay healthy and safe.