When an employee claims they contracted COVID-19 at work, the employer must conduct an investigation for OSHA and workers' comp purposes.
Workers’ Comp and COVID-19: Your Employer Questions Answered
Do you have questions about your workers' comp policy and whether COVID-19 claims are compensable, or if you should reclassify WFH employees?
The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a lot of questions from business owners in multiple facets. In this article, we’re answering employer questions about how their workers’ comp policy and related premiums are affected by COVID-19.
If my employee contracts COVID-19 at work, is it compensable under my company’s workers’ comp policy?
Whether or not your workers’ comp policy covers an employee who contracted COVID-19 at work depends on your state workers’ comp statutes. The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) explains it like this:
“While workers compensation laws provide compensation for ‘occupational diseases’ that arise out of and in the course of employment, many state statutes exclude ‘ordinary diseases of life’ (e.g., the common cold or flu). There are occupational groups that arguably would have a higher probability for exposure such as healthcare workers. However, even in those cases, there may be uncertainty as to whether the disease is compensable.”
How do I find out if my workers’ comp policy is in a state that provides coverage for COVID-19 illnesses contracted at work?
Because state laws are still rapidly changing, the NCCI has created a COVID-19 Regulatory and Legislative Activity page that is updated weekly: https://www.ncci.com/Articles/Pages/II_Covid-19-RegLeg-Activity.pdf
With that being said, you should let your workers’ comp carrier know as soon as possible if an employee tests positive for COVID-19. They will help you determine whether COVID-19 is covered under your policy and if you should file a claim.
My employees who aren’t classified as clerical employees have been working from home due to COVID-19. Can these employees be reclassified as clerical office employees with lower premium rates?
Due to the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s likely that your workers’ comp policy will allow you to reclassify employees. Those who are working from home may be reclassified as telecommuters (8871) or clerical employees (8810), or under the new class code of 0012, which is for employees who are being paid while at home but not working.
Employers will need to maintain separate payroll records for wages earned in their alternate position and subsequent classifications during the pandemic. (Source: wcf.com)
Will I be charged workers’ comp premium for payments made to employees receiving Emergency Paid Sick or Emergency Family Medical Leave payments under the CARES Act?
If an employee is not doing any work at all for their employer while receiving emergency leave payments, these wages should be excluded from workers’ comp premium calculations. If, however, the employee is simply waiting for materials to arrive (i.e. “downtime”), the employee is still under the employer’s control and wages should be included in workers’ comp premium.
Can my workers’ comp payments be adjusted retroactively if I haven’t yet adjusted employees’ class codes?
Class code corrections can likely be adjusted during your audit, but that may depend on when your audit period is. Please reach out to your HR Rep or your workers’ comp insurance agent or carrier for more information.
For more information about workers’ comp and how it’s impacted by COVID-19, please visit: https://www.ncci.com/Articles/Pages/Insights-Coronavirus-FAQs.aspx.