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COVID-19 Workers Compensation Claims

Mar 25, 2020

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Lodge 359 Members,

Please see the following information on Workers Compensation in BC:

COVID-19 Workers Compensation Claims

The following link provides updates on what is going on at the WCB with COVID-19 claims.

https://www.worksafebc.com/en/about-us/covid-19-updates/claims

  1. There is no compensation for self-isolation before a confirmed diagnosis of Covid-19.

WCB does provide benefits in the case of exposure claims but there are specific requirements that need to be met.

The RSCM Volume II sets out that four criteria must be met in order to receive compensation in the absence of conclusive evidence of a diagnosis. One of those factors is that “the effects of the exposure can be significantly mitigated or prevented by the immediate provision of post-exposure prophylaxis (“PEP”).

PEPs are applicable to exposure from diseases such as HIV, Hep-B and Rabies but not so with Covid-19. As such, compensation is not provided without a confirmed diagnosis of Covid-19.

  1. There is compensation available when there is a confirmed diagnosis of Covid-19 but the requirements are set high.

First, there is no presumption for coverage. The WCB has developed the policy quickly and has addressed the matter through general application. This means that there is no benefit of a presumption for any particular sector of workers.

In order to qualify for compensation the following two conditions must be met:

  1. a) Evidence that the worker has contracted COVID-19, by either:
  2.  a medical diagnosis in a medical report, or
  3. non-medical factual evidence where other evidence establishes the existence of COVID-19.

and

  1. b) The nature of the worker’s employment created a risk of contracting the disease significantly greater than the ordinary exposure risk of the public at large.

The WCB has provided clarity by what is meant by significantly greater than the ordinary exposure risk of the public at large.

An exposure where a significantly greater risk would be present is an acute care hospital worker, who is treating patients who have been diagnosed with COVID-19. In these cases, they are at greater risk than the general public of contracting the disease.

A circumstance where coverage would not be provided is where a worker is in contact with people in the public at large.

  1. Compensation may also be obtained on the merits of an individual case.

Outside of the regime set up by the WCB it may also be possible to obtain compensation if a worker can demonstrate direct exposure in the course of employment. In those cases compensation may be initially denied but upon further investigation and obtaining evidence your member may be successful.

I hope this has been helpful to explain what is currently available in terms of compensation for Covid-19. Next week I will provide an overview of the OHS Regulations as those relate to the right to refuse unsafe work.

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