As the COVID-19 situation evolves, we continue to receive questions from concerned productions.
While the severity of COVID-19 or how many people will fall ill is currently unknown, employers should be proactive in implementing prevention strategies and be prepared to respond to varying levels of severity, refining their business response plans as needed and using information and resources from credible organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov
As an employer, what can I do to help prevent the spread of COVID-19?
There are a lot of unknowns about how the virus that causes COVID-19 spreads. Current knowledge is largely based on what is known about similar coronaviruses.
Current strategies for employers to use now that may help to prevent workplace exposures to acute respiratory illnesses, such as COVID-19, include:
- Actively encouraging sick employees to stay home
- Separating sick employees
- Emphasizing staying home when sick, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene by all employees
- Performing routine environmental cleaning
- Advising employees to take certain steps before traveling, including checking the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices for the latest guidance and recommendations, and checking themselves for symptoms of acute respiratory illness
For more information about each recommendation, please visit the CDC’s dedicated Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers page. Interim guidance for businesses is based on what is currently known. Employers should continue to monitor the site for the latest updates.
Will COVID-19 claims be covered by Workers’ Compensation?
In the world of Workers’ Compensation, two tests must be met for an illness or disease to be compensable. These tests both must be met to even consider compensability.
- The disease or illness must have arisen out of and in the course and scope of employment, meaning the individual was working at the time it occurred and performing duties of employment when it occurred (duties benefiting the employer).
- The illness and/or disease must arise out of or be caused by conditions that are peculiar and unique to the work itself (for example, if a nurse were to contract TB after treating a patient with TB).
The average flu and cold are not considered occupational illnesses or diseases as they are not peculiar to the work performed. It would be hard to argue that COVID-19 is peculiar to the entertainment industry, or to most industries, as it would be difficult to create a direct causation of the illness to the work itself.
The likelihood of successfully winning an occupational illness/disease claim would likely be very low, but until claims are processed and play out in courts, there is not yet a definite answer. Insurance carriers are not yet giving opinions as each case has to stand on its own unique circumstances prior to determination. Many factors come into play in evaluating a claim and there is no guarantee on coverage until the claims are submitted and the facts of each claim are examined.
For more information, read the Insurance Journal’s article on Coronavirus, Pandemics and Workers’ Compensation.
Employees and employers should consider other insurance products such as health insurance coverage, disability coverage and foreign accident/medical coverage, among others, to ensure they have adequate protections in place.
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Last updated: 3.9.20. This information in this communication is general in nature, and is not intended, nor should it be construed, as legal, accounting, tax or other professional advice rendered by GreenSlate, LLC. The reader should contact his or her attorney, CPA, or tax professional prior to taking any action based upon this information.