When it comes to most aspects of our jobs and lives, the COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the rules. It has also raised new questions for many workers, particularly front line employees and essential workers who must put themselves at risk of infection every day. A big concern for these individuals has been what will happen if they end up catching the coronavirus while they’re at work. Will they be eligible for workers’ compensation to help keep them and their families afloat while they’re forced to quarantine or recover from illness and unable to earn an income?
Depending on where they live, employees who catch COVID on the job may be eligible for compensation. In general, workers’ compensation covers “occupational diseases” directly related to the workplace but excludes conditions like the flu or the common cold. Even for high-risk groups like health care workers, who have a greater chance of being exposed to certain diseases, common contagious illnesses are likely not covered under workers’ compensation, mainly because people could also have been exposed in other areas of their lives.
Workers’ Compensation and COVID in California
When it comes to the coronavirus, however, the rules have changed. In September, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation stating that an employee’s COVID infection could be considered an occupational injury if certain criteria are met. In these cases, infected workers – including those in the Los Angeles and Tarzana areas – would be eligible for workers’ compensation.
The benefits of this decision are twofold: First, employees who already may be struggling financially in these difficult times are given an essential lifeline. Secondly – and perhaps most importantly – this decision allows ill people to stay home, follow public health recommendations, and reduce the spread of the virus to other people in the workplace and the community.
“We are removing a burden for workers on the front lines who risk their health and safety to deliver critical services to our fellow Californians so that they can access benefits and be able to focus on their recovery,” Newsom said. “Workers’ compensation … will help workers get the care they need to get healthy and, in turn, protect public health.”
Many other states are extending coverage to first responders and health care workers and changing policies to allow more employees to file successful workers’ compensation claims. One such change allows for the presumption that high-risk employees’ COVID infections are directly tied to their employment, allowing them to gain access to workers’ compensation coverage.
Contact The Work Injury Advocate For A Consultation
If you are struggling to gain access to workers’ compensation benefits after catching COVID-19 at work, you need someone on your side to help you fight for what you deserve. During this challenging time, a dedicated and reliable attorney can make a significant difference in the outcome of your matter. The Work Injury Advocate is focused solely on our clients’ needs, and we provide professional and effective representation.
We advocate for our southern California clients. There’s no need to handle these difficult matters alone. Get the legal advice, counsel, and representation you need. Contact the Work Injury Advocate in southern California for a consultation. We can help you decide which course of action will serve your best interests.