A Worker May Be Sick or Exposed to COVID-19 Do I need to offer workers’ compensation benefits?

If a worker believes they contracted COVID-19 at their workplace, they have a right to workers’ compensation benefits. You should encourage workers to notify their employer and file a workers’ compensation claim if they think they contracted COVID-19 at work. When you become aware of the illness, you should provide your employee the workers’ compensation claim form.

On September 17, 2020, the governor signed Senate Bill 1159. This new law creates two rebuttable presumptions that COVID-19 illnesses contracted by specific categories of employees are work related and therefore eligible for workers’ compensation, including medical treatment.

  • The first presumption applies to COVID-19 workers’ compensation claims filed by peace officers, firefighters, first responders, and health care workers.
  • The second presumption, for employers with five or more employees, applies to employees who test positive for COVID-19 during an outbreak at the employee’s specific place of employment. An outbreak occurs when a set number of employees – depending on the number of employees at the workplace – test positive for COVID-19 during a continuous 14-day period.
    • Employers are required to report all employee infections at a specific workplace to their workers’ compensation insurer, regardless of whether the infection appears to be work related. 
    • This is a rebuttable presumption meaning that an employer can present evidence regarding measures they have taken to reduce potential transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace.

This bill limits the risk of employers being liable for claims where the infection did not occur at work by tailoring the presumptions to those first responders and frontline health care workers whose work puts them at the greatest risk of exposure and other employees where there is a demonstrated and verifiable COVID-19 outbreak at their worksite.

You can contact the Information and Assistance Unit if you have questions or call 1‑800‑736‑7401 for recorded information

January 2021