Although it has been over two years since the onset of the global pandemic, COVID-19 still has the majority of the population on edge. Workers are worried about getting sick and losing their jobs, while employers are struggling to keep their businesses afloat. Amidst all the chaos, one question that is often asked is: can workers get compensated for the time off due to COVID-19 infection?
In this blog post, we will answer that question and provide you with everything you need to know about COVID-19 and workers’ compensation in California.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, there have been over ten million confirmed cases in California, with over 93,000 succumbing to the disease. Out of those ten million cases, over three million have been in Los Angeles County alone. With such a high number of infections, it’s no surprise that many workers have contracted the virus.
Under California’s workers’ compensation laws, employees who contract COVID-19 are eligible for benefits if they can prove that their job was a contributing factor to their infection. For example, if an employee is required to work in close proximity to others and contracts the virus, they would likely be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
These are the industries that have been most affected by the pandemic in terms of workers’ compensation claims:
- Healthcare and social assistance
- Restaurants and bars
- Retail trade
The following groups have been shown to be more vulnerable to complications due to COVID-19:
- Older adults, especially those over the age of 65
- People with underlying health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease
- Pregnant women, especially in the third trimester
- Frontline workers, for example, first responders, healthcare workers, grocery store clerks
What Benefits are Available to me If I Catch COVID-19?
There are two types of benefits available to employees who contract COVID-19: temporary disability benefits and death benefits. Temporary disability benefits provide workers with partial wage replacement while they are unable to work due to their illness. Death benefits provide financial assistance to the families of employees who have died from COVID-19.
How do I Qualify for COVID-19 Work Comp Benefits?
In order to receive workers’ compensation benefits, employees must first file a claim with their employer. The claim must be approved by the workers’ compensation insurance carrier before benefits can be paid out.
It’s important to note that not all employees who contract COVID-19 will be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Employees who are unable to prove that their job was a contributing factor to their infection will likely not be eligible for benefits.
For example, if an employee contracts COVID-19 but works from home and does not have any close contact with others, it would be difficult to prove that their job was a contributing factor to their infection. Additionally, if you catch the disease from a family member, you will not be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the landscape of workers’ compensation in California. Prior to the pandemic, very few claims were filed for illnesses that were contracted at work. However, with the high number of infections in the state, workers’ compensation claims related to COVID-19 have become much more common.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a difficult time for everyone. Workers who have contracted the virus and are unable to work deserve to be compensated for their time off. If you think you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, please contact an experienced attorney specializing in work comp law today. They will be able to answer your questions, review your case, and advise you on further steps.