Am I Covered by Workers’ Compensation if I Contract Coronavirus at Work?

Am I Covered by Workers’ Compensation If I Contract Coronavirus at Work?

Right now, the answer is most likely no for public school employees. The current workers’ compensation provisions provide coverage for an “occupational illness or disease” that arises out of and in the course of employment.

In order to meet the threshold requirement that it “arises out of and in the course of employment,” there are a number of factors that must be examined, including:

  1. There must be a direct causal connection between conditions under which the work is performed and the occupational disease.
  2. The occupational disease is a natural incident of the work per­formed or the result of exposure stemming from the nature of the employment.
  3. The disease may be traced to the employment as the proxi­mate cause. With an infectious disease such as coronavirus, it is impossible to demonstrate that the disease does not result from exposure outside of the workplace.

MSEA has worked with elected leaders in order to have legisla­tion submitted that would provide protection to all school employ­ees who are working in school buildings during a global pandemic. In it, any coronavirus-related illness of an employee would be presumed to arise out of—and in the course of—the employment for purposes of awarding workers’ compensation benefits.

This legislation would be retroactive to August 1, 2020. If successful, any employee currently reporting to the school building for work and who tests positive for coronavirus should share the diagnosis with the employer not only for purposes of quarantine and leave, but also for purposes of possibly qualifying for workers’ compensation benefits.

Find MSEA’s extensive coronavirus resources here.

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