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COVID-19 – Work Comp and FFRCRA

If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, you may be covered under the Workers’ Compensation Act for any time that you miss and for any resultant medical bills.  The Workers’ Compensation Act provisions which would apply would be those that cover occupational diseases.  The requirements to be shown would be that you were exposed to the contaminant and that you have medical evidence which relates your condition to your work and an exposure by a co-worker.  Although there is a presumption that the disease was contracted at work in certain situations, as a practical matter it would be best to have a medical doctor indicate the cause in writing. The usual notice provisions of 120 days to the employer would still be a prerequisite.

If you are exposed to a co-worker who has tested positive and must quarantine, workers’ compensation would not apply because you do not have an illness, but you may be able to secure unemployment compensation benefits or the  benefits described below.

If you or a family member is affected by COVID-19 paid leave under the provisions of the recently enacted Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) may be helpful to you.

The FFCRA, which went into effect on April 1, 2020, provides for emergency paid sick leave (EPSLA) and emergency paid Family and Medical Leave Act benefits (EFMLEA).  The law covers any private entity or individual who employs fewer than 500 Employees.  29 CFR 826.40(a).  It provides that covered employers must provide Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave to eligible employees.  29 CFR 826.40(a).  While the law provides that businesses with fewer than 50 employees may be able to obtain an exemption when offering leave benefits would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.

Regarding employee eligibility, the EPSLA provisions of the FFCRA provide that all employees of a covered employer are eligible for paid sick leave.  29 CFR 826.30(a).  The EFMLEA provisions of the law, meanwhile, provide that all employees employed by a covered employer for at least thirty calendar days are eligible for expanded family and medical leave.  29 CFR 826.30(b).  The only exceptions are for employees who are health care providers or emergency responders, and for certain U.S. Government Executive Branch employees.  29 CFR 826.30(c)(d).

The FFCRA provides that covered employers are required to provide eligible employees two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave under the EPSLA at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because of the need to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.  In fact, Section 826.20 of the law expressly provides:

“(a) Qualifying reasons for Paid Sick Leave.  (1) An Employer shall provide to each of its Employees Paid Sick Leave to the extent that Employee is unable to work due to any of the following reasons:

(v) The Employee is caring for his or her Son or Daughter whose School or Place of Care has been closed for a period of time, whether by order of a State or local official or authority or at the decision of the individual School or Place of Care, or the Child Care Provider of such Son or Daughter is unavailable, for reasons related to COVID-19.”

29 CFR 826.20(a)(v).

If your employer is over 500 employees, it is assumed that they will provide similar protection, however it is not required by law.

If you need assistance with this or any work comp or injury issue, please feel free to contact the Attorneys at RUDBERG LAW OFFICES, LLC toll free at 1-866-306-2667 or email [email protected]

 

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