Workers’ compensation has come under the spotlight as confusion over claims reigns. But one thing is sure and that with the latest rule changes it will almost certainly send premiums skyrocketing for business owners across America.
Changes to rules could enable many types of workers that are categorized by their class codes to claim compensation from their employers if they show they caught coronavirus on the job. These rules currently apply to emergency responders and those in the healthcare sector, but there are increasing calls for these benefits to be extended to grocery store employees and delivery workers too.
What’s the Current Situation?
Many states have eased rules thus allowing emergency responders and healthcare workers who contract coronavirus on the job to claim benefits. Naturally, this will force premiums higher for employers.
Law firm Davis, Saperstein & Saloman P.C., which was named one of the best workplaces in America, says that employers must be prepared for higher premiums in certain sectors.
Fears that this could extend to grocery stores and other businesses that have avoided the shutdown may cause a lot of employers to struggle in the coming years.
How Does One Prove Coronavirus?
Attorneys for workers’ compensation cases are paying particular attention as to how courts react to cases that could come as a result of the pandemic.
A worker must prove that they contracted coronavirus while they were on the job. For workers like nurses and doctors, who are in regular contact with people who have the virus, this shouldn’t be a problem.
On the other hand, if these provisions are extended to grocery store employees and other frontline workers, it could be much harder to prove that they contracted the virus while at work.
The burden of proof is on the individual making the claim, so attorneys are waiting to see where the bar is set and how courts react to these cases.
Gig Workers Could Have Some Recourse
As well as workers in certain industries, gig workers may also find rules on workers’ compensation changing in light of the coronavirus.
Under California law, drivers for Uber and Lyft protested for sick leave pay benefits. If this becomes widespread, it could mean gig economy workers gain the same rights as ordinary employees. That could force companies like Uber to pay workers compensation benefits, which could cost the company millions.
That’s before adding in potential sick pay and other required benefits under different state laws.
The Dangers of Rising Premiums
Davis, Saperstein & Salomon P.C. say that much of the focus from the mainstream media is on major corporations. Big business may be able to afford rising premiums, but people forget many workers covered under these provisions work for smaller businesses.
A stream of claims and rising premiums could put a lot of small businesses into bankruptcy. Davis, Saperstein & Salomon P.C. state this could end up harming workers, as they may not have jobs to go back to.
There’s also a danger that in the face of rising premiums, employers could decide to downsize their workforces or invest in automation technology instead.
How do you think changes to workers’ comp rules will impact business in this country?