Can I Receive Workers’ Compensation If I Catch COVID-19 On The Job?
It has been nearly a year since the first cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) began to appear in the United States. Throughout the entire period, employers have had to adjust on the fly to balance the needs of their businesses with the welfare of their employees, though some employers have instead simply cut back on workers to save money. Those who remain on the job run the risk of catching the virus – but in some states, they have no workers’ compensation coverage to fall back on. It is understandable that Connecticut workers would ask the same question.
The short answer as to whether workers’ compensation covers COVID-19 claims is ‘maybe,’ but a true answer is contingent on many different questions and factors. The only demonstrable coverage officially granted by the state of Connecticut has been via an executive order from Governor Lamont, issued July 24, 2020, and it created a “rebuttable presumption” that any worker who contracted COVID-19 between March 10 and May 20, 2020, did so on the job and is thus eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
As of this writing, nothing official has been extended to assist workers who may have contracted the virus while working during any later date. There has been some movement on a proposed COVID-19 related bill in the Labor and Public Employees Committee, which would expand workers’ compensation coverage, but no concrete steps have as yet been taken. This means that essentially, sick workers are on their own for the most part.
Workers’ compensation law does generally hold that diseases or conditions contracted while in the course and scope of employment are covered, because it can reasonably be inferred that their work activities were the direct cause of the condition – for example, if an office worker develops carpal tunnel syndrome. However, Connecticut lawmakers have disagreed on whether COVID-19 can be classified as an occupational disease, because in theory, it can be contracted anywhere, and the likelihood for most people is no greater or lesser at work than it would be anywhere else.
There are options that an ill worker may be able to pursue – for example, if they qualify under the law, they may be able to apply for leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), or Connecticut’s Paid Sick Leave law. However, the fact remains that not everyone is in a position to take advantage of these options. If you believe that you have a claim for workers’ compensation, your best option may be to consult an experienced attorney and try to go from there.
Contact A Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you contract COVID-19, your first priority must be your health, but this can be difficult if your livelihood is on the line. It can feel as though you are between a rock and a hard place. Calling a Stratford workers’ compensation attorney can be the first step toward getting answers to your questions, and the Morizio Law Firm is well versed in the issues that can appear in these types of cases. Contact our offices today at 475-338-3505 for a free consultation.