Over 100,000 people in Massachusetts have gotten and recovered from COVID-19. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused chaos in the workplace, with many businesses temporarily closed, on limited capacity, or shuttered permanently.
Additional safety standards are in place to help prevent the spread. But if you contract COVID-19 in MA, are you entitled to workers’ compensation? We’ll answer your top FAQs about the COVID-19 pandemic and workers’ comp in this post.
What Happens if an Employee Contracts COVID-19 While Working?
Current Massachusetts law states that when an employee gets an infectious disease, it won’t trigger workers’ comp protection automatically. Instead, the law says an employee must prove that “the hazard of contracting such diseases by an employee is inherent in the employment.”
The qualifying condition here is “inherent in the employment.” Essentially, an employee has to demonstrate that their job caused their exposure to the novel coronavirus. The bottom line is, if you can prove your job duties got you sick, then you’re entitled to workers’ comp benefits.
How is MA Workers’ Comp Law Applied to COVID-19 Claims?
Nursing home employees, doctors, and nurses all have job duties that are inherently risky when it comes to contracting COVID-19. People who work in medical settings and have contact with COVID-19 patients have strong workers’ comp claims.
There’s a proposed amendment to the MA workers’ compensation law — House Bill 4749. The bill will change the current law to provide coverage to emergency medical and response workers in MA who become infected with the novel coronavirus.
The types of workers covered under the bill are:
- Emergency medical technicians
- Emergency room and urgent care medical personnel
- Emergency room and urgent care non-medical staff
Once the bill becomes law, these workers will be presumed to have become infected with COVID-19 while on the job.
What About Workers Who Don’t Have Direct Contact with COVID-19 Patients?
Right now, it’s unclear whether non-medical essential workers such as cashiers, bus drivers, and those working other essential jobs will be entitled to workers’ comp for COVID-19 infection. In fact, there isn’t a legal precedent for it. Before the pandemic, these types of employees wouldn’t have been able to collect workers’ comp for an infectious disease.
Current developments to note
Labor leaders in Massachusetts are trying to create an “occupational presumption” within the law for all essential frontline workers. If this comes to pass, then all frontline workers, including healthcare and grocery store employees, who test positive for COVID-19, will be presumed to have become infected while working.
How Would an Employee Prove COVID-19 Exposure While on the Job?
Because there is no occupational presumption in place yet, workers who contract COVID-19 in MA will have to prove they got the virus while working. This is difficult to do because it’s nearly impossible to verify where or how someone becomes infected with a respiratory virus. It’s relatively easy for employers to claim their employees became exposed to COVID-19 outside of work.
To make a strong case for workers’ comp in MA for COVID-19 infection, an employee would have to demonstrate:
- What precautions they took to prevent infection outside the workplace
- Where they’ve gone outside of work
- Whom they’ve interacted with
- If they’ve come into contact with someone who has COVID-19
Contact the Law Offices of Eden Rafferty for Help with Your Workers’ Comp Claim
Have you contracted COVID-19 because of your job duties? It’s not easy to prove a case for workers’ comp in this situation, but it is possible. We’re ready to help.
At Eden Rafferty, our team of skilled attorneys has over eight decades of collective experience in an auto accident, disability, and workers’ comp claims.
Contact our leading attorney for workers’ comp, Jane Eden, today at (508) 917-6823.