At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, fear of a silent killer spreading among the workplace sent workers in all sectors of the economy home. No one wanted to share nearby workplaces with co-workers.
Now the vast majority of white collar employees still work from home, but not many of them have had the opportunity. Nurses, doctors, corrections workers, firefighters, grocery store employees and other retail workers are all at work, many of whom contract and die of COVID-19.
Not everyone can count on workers’ firms.
Many work-related illnesses and injuries are covered through workers compensation benefits. That covers medical care and a portion of lost wages.
However, diseases that spread quickly, such as colds and influenza, They are often not covered by the workers’ company benefitsBecause it can be difficult to prove that you got sick while at work.
And now comes COVID-19. With the spread of the untraceable community occurring across the country, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly where the grocery worker became ill. Common sense might lead you to believe that a nurse or bus driver contracting COVID-19 happened because of their work. But the issue isn’t quite as clear as the coal miner who developed the black lung, for example.
State actions are limited
As of late August, 19 states have expanded workers compensation benefits somewhatAccording to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In most of those states, governors used executive orders, or lawmakers voted to extend coverage to first responders, hospital workers, and other essential workers, although coverage varies by state. These cases include:
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
- Puerto Rico
Less countries cover all workers
Arkansas currently extends worker company benefits to all workers who contract COVID-19, but does not give a presumption of coverage. This means workers still have to prove that their diagnosis is related to their job. For workers who live somewhere without extensive contact tracing or testing, this won’t be easy to prove.
Wyoming law now covers all workers whose jobs qualify for Workers’ Compensation benefits, with the assumption of coverage granted.
And just this week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom I signed a law that makes it so much easier For workers contracting COVID-19 to collect worker company benefits. The bill presumes coverage for all first responders and healthcare workers, including sanitation workers who deal with COVID-19 patients.
For all other workers, they will need to prove the outbreak in the workplace. For workplaces with five to 100 employees, this means that at least four workers have been infected in a two-week period. For workplaces with more than 100 employees, this means that at least 4% of workers will need to test positive within two weeks. While this may be a difficult obstacle to clear, it is something of the least.
For workers in all other states, you will need to speak with your boss, union representative, or workers’ compensation attorney if you have questions about your options and rights.