COVID-19 and Pennsylvania Workers Compensation

COVID-19 outbreak

COVID-19, also known as, Coronavirus is a new respiratory disease. It’s a novel pandemic that is infecting people worldwide. Since there is no vaccine for this virus so far, there is possibly no escape from it unless you take precautions such as stay at home and not interact with people. However, this is not a practical option for working people, especially for those who can’t bring work to home.

The soaring numbers of infected people and deaths have left the economy of many states crippled, including Pennsylvania. As the COVID-19 death toll increases nationwide daily, it has raised concerns and confused workers across industries, and Pennsylvania is no different. Many businesses across the state of Pennsylvania have been forced to shut down their doors and lay off workers, thus leaving employees completely uncertain about their financial stability and future.

Being well-aware of the entire situation, the Trump administration is using all the tools that are at their disposal to lower the risk of Coronavirus in the US and also to assist workers that are affected by it. President Trump made it clear to all that safety, health, and security of the American people are his top priority. And this should give workers a sigh of relief in the prevailing chaotic situation.

If you are still going to work or have been tested positive for COVID-19 and can’t go to work now, then this post is a must-read for you as we share with you all the details that you need to know about your safety rights and workers’ compensation. As on April 2020, as part of the PA ongoing response to Coronavirus, Governor Wolf have suspended some portions of the Workers’ Compensation Act, so you need to be well-aware of your rights and what you should do in case you get infected by COVID-19. Below are the answers to some important questions that we think you may be curious about.

Take a look:

Can a worker be laid off from work because of COVID-19 while on worker’s compensation?

Yes. A worker can be laid off because of the economic crisis caused by COVID-19 while on workers’ compensation. It is important to understand that lay off occurs because of financial uncertainty and organizational restructuring.

Am I eligible for workers’ compensation if I get infected because of Coronavirus at work?

Yes you shall be eligible for workers’ compensation if you were exposed to COVID-19 at work. Depending on the profession, Coronavirus may be classified as an occupational disease. For example, if you’re serving as a healthcare worker or a first responder and you get affected by COVID-19, then you shall be eligible for workers’ compensation in PA.

Can I benefit from workers’ compensation if I work from home because of COVID-19?

Please note that work from home and workers’ compensation in the current situation is a dynamic landscape. You will only be able to get workers’ compensation benefits if you are able to prove that the injury that you incurred while you were working from your home is within the course as well as the scope of your employment.

How can I report to about my illness or work-related exposure from Coronavirus?

If you have been infected by or are exposed to the risk of Coronavirus, you will follow the same procedure for reporting as you would otherwise if you were injured at work. Make sure that you notify your supervisor or employer within 120 days of contracting the illness.

What happens if I contract COVID-19 from a colleague who has been tested positive and I fall sick a short time later? Can I file a claim?

In such a situation, you must notify your employer right away. Once reported, your employer should fill out and submit an incident report to their worker’s compensation insurance.

If my healthcare physician advises me to stay off from work because they suspect that I was exposed to Coronavirus, but my workers’ compensation gets denied, can I appeal the denial?

Indeed I can be appealed. However, it is always advisable to work with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer whenever you want to file a workers’ compensation claim, or you are appealing a denied claim. In both situations, you will have greater chances of approval.

How will my existing case in the court be preceded after COVID-19?

Well, it’s true that COVID-19 has affected all industries including the court systems. However, the courts are continuously working to find solutions to hear cases remotely if not in person. But, there may be delays as new procedures and processes are being tested.

Jerry Olesiak, Pa Secretary of Labor and Industry said that as the state and nation makes crucial efforts to slow the COVID-19 spread, it is extremely important to relieve some of the financial pressures on the workers so that they can focus on their health and safety. Therefore, the best option for employers is to offer paid time off to an employee.

In case if leave is not an option and your job somehow has been impacted by the virus, then the employee shall be eligible for benefits through unemployment of workers compensation. He further explained and said that employee who has been exposed to Coronavirus in their workplace are eligible for worker compensation and shall notify their employer to file a “disease as injury” claim. But with that, you need to provide adequate medical evidence that shows that you were exposed to COVID-19 at work.

Moreover, in Pennsylvania, wage loss and disability are synonymous. Thus, if the worker has established a workplace exposure through credible evidence and if they have COVID-19 medical evidence on employment then as under the law, the worker shall be entitled to benefits for any loss of their earnings compared to their pre-injury weekly average wage. This is compensated at 66 2/3 percent to Section 306 (a) provisions.

Keep in mind that wage loss benefits are payable during quarantine and any kind of medical directed monitoring period. This is applicable even in those situations where the worker tests negative for COVID-19.

However, voluntary wage loss benefit payment to employees is not recommended if they are not under medical direction to quarantine.

For more information on COVID-19 and Pennsylvania workers compensation, get in touch with us. At Cherry Injury Law, our Pennsylvania workers compensation lawyer can answer all of your questions and provide you with quality guidance and legal assistance as needed.