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COVID-19 and workers’ comp: 5 FAQs

COVID-19 raises a host of issues regarding workers’ compensation… 

In this post, we will address some frequently asked questions. 

Does work comp generally cover viruses, such as the flu?

Regular diseases and viruses, including MRSA, the common cold, and the flu are not covered under workers’ compensation and historically have not been covered. 

Generally speaking, regular diseases like the flu are not covered under workers’ compensation because it’s possible to contract it outside of work.

What is workers’ comp?

It’s a type of insurance designed to protect both you and your employer. The trade-off for this protection for you and your family is that your employer would be protected from liability lawsuits outside of worker’s comp.

When can a worker recover worker’s comp for occupational diseases?

You may be eligible to file for workers compensation under the occupational disease exception if you are a healthcare worker. This exception allows for worker’s compensation coverage for those diagnosed with a serious condition easily identifiable as having been contracted while on the job. 

This exception is strictly that – an exception – and not guaranteed approval for every claim filed.

Will worker’s comp laws be changed to cover COVID-19? 

Lawmakers across the country are working to ease COVID-19 workers’ compensation rules for workers who can prove they got sick on the job. Only a few states have made official changes guaranteeing such coverage to date. Sick leave may be an option. 

Which workers would be eligible under the proposed changes? 

Oklahoma lawmakers are calling for guaranteed worker’s compensation for those who test positive for COVID-19 that came from on-the-job exposure. The proposed changes currently name only first responders and healthcare workers. In other states, some lawyers and activists have argued all essential workers – including grocery store employees – should qualify. 

Situation is in flux

Changes in sick leave, worker’s comp, and other benefits are all subject to rapid change in the evolving response to COVID-19. If you need to learn more, it makes sense to contact an attorney knowledgeable in those areas of the law. 


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