Boca Raton, FL – The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) recently released a new Insights article offering perspective on the effect of COVID-19 (coronavirus) on the workers compensation industry, including compensability and economic impact.
The COVID-19 virus (coronavirus) is the latest in a series of infectious diseases that have emerged over the last 20 years. Since 2003, the world has seen the emergence of SARS, H1N1, Ebola, and Zika viruses.
While the overall impact of each disease has been well documented, you would be hard pressed to find meaningful information on how or even if the workers compensation (WC) system was affected. However, in the two months since the first US case of coronavirus was confirmed in Washington state, there has already been an impact to the WC environment and there may be more to come.
So, what does NCCI see as the potential implications of coronavirus for WC? We will focus on two: compensability and economic impact.
Is coronavirus compensable under WC? The answer to that question is “maybe.” While WC 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. Would time away from work during recovery be considered “temporary disability” or is it just normal “sick time”? While these questions linger, at least one state has taken steps to address compensability for WC.
With a focus on worker safety, employers have begun to implement a number of policies related to coronavirus. These include limiting nonessential travel, maximizing telecommuting options, and being flexible on sick leave policies to encourage employees to stay home when they are ill. Some companies have also cancelled large in-person industry conferences. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued its own guidelines related to travel with specific recommendations for the cruise industry.
Click here to read the full brief: NCCI INSIGHTS: COVID-19 and Workers’ Compensation