Governor Lamont Extends Workers’ Compensation Coverage to Workers Who Contracted COVID-19
Following months of public calls to take such action, Gov. Ned Lamont finally issued an executive order on July 24 to help workers who contracted COVID-19 while on the job obtain workers’ compensation benefits.
The governor’s order–known as Executive Order No. 7JJJ–creates what is known in the law as a “rebuttable presumption.” This means that if a worker meets certain requirements spelled out in the executive order, workers’ compensation officials must consider COVID-19 an “occupational disease” entitling the worker to benefits. The presumption may be overcome, however, so it is not an absolute guarantee of workers’ compensation benefits.
The text of the governor’s order may not be clear to individuals unfamiliar with workers’ compensation law. So here is a brief rundown of some of the key points. Please note this information should not be considered legal advice and is not a substitute for speaking directly with a qualified Connecticut workers’ compensation attorney.
Who Does the Executive Order Cover?
The order applies to an employee who has missed at least one day of work between March 10 and May 20, 2020, because they were diagnosed with COVID-19 or had symptoms that were diagnosed as COVID-19. The employee must have worked outside the home (at their employer’s direction) at least once during the 14 days preceding the diagnosis.
What If I Have Been Working from Home?
The order excludes any employee who has “not received an offer or directive” from their employer to work-from home during the 14 days before they were diagnosed with COVID-19.
Do I Need the Results of an Actual COVID-19 Test Before Applying for Workers’ Compensation?
Yes, the order states that an employee’s COVID-19 diagnosis must be “confirmed by a positive laboratory diagnostic test within 3 weeks of” the date of the alleged injury. A copy of the test results must be submitted to the employer or their workers’ compensation insurer.
I Don’t Know the Exact Date I Contracted COVID-19. How Do I Know What My “Date of Injury” Is for Workers’ Compensation Purposes?
The order defines the date of injury as the first day–between March 10 and May 20–that you were unable to work due to COVID-19. If you are filing for benefits on behalf of a deceased employee, the date of death may be considered the date of injury.
How Can My Employer “Rebut” the Presumption I Contracted COVID-19 On the Job?
Once the rebuttable presumption is established, the burden of proof is on your employer (or their insurance company) to demonstrate by a “preponderance of the evidence” that something other than your employment caused you to contract COVID-19.
Can My Employer Fire or Discipline Me for Seeking Workers’ Compensation Benefits Related to COVID-19?
No, the order flatly prohibits any act of “discharge, discrimination, discipline, and deliberate misinformation” regarding COVID-19. So you cannot be fired or punished in any way for seeking workers’ compensation benefits.
Do I Need to Speak with a Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Attorney?
Yes, it is always a good idea to work with a qualified Stratford workers’ compensation attorney, especially when dealing with new law like the governor’s order addressing COVID-19. If you need advice or representation in connection with any workers’ compensation matter, contact the Morizio Law Firm to schedule a consultation.