Can you hold your employer accountable for not protecting you from COVID-19?

The coronavirus disease is an infectious disease that affects people in different ways. While some individuals develop a mild fever and don’t require hospitalization to recover, others can develop serious symptoms like difficulty breathing, chest pain, and even loss of speech and movement. Until now, age, sex, and country were considered the main variables of interest. Therefore, the occupational risk hasn’t been thoroughly examined or cited as a potential risk factor. COVID-19 can easily spread in offices. If even one surface is compromised, the virus can infect the majority of people in a matter of hours.

It’s the responsibility of the employer to make sure that the workplace is safe and limit exposure to the coronavirus. They should revisit their strategies, policies, and procedures.  The employer is legally liable for employees and visitors infected in the workplace. As a result, having inadequate communicable-illness policies and response plans in place concerning COVID-19 could expose the organization to a negligence lawsuit. The coronavirus disease can be classified as an occupational disease because people can get infected in the office. Cases are already being litigated, so it’s not a novelty.

Is COVID-19 a reportable? Can it be considered an occupational disease?

In the wake of the rapid spread of the coronavirus, nations are now facing the issue of assessing whether COVID-19 can be categorized as an occupational disease. An occupational disease is a health condition that is caused by the work environment or activities related to work. The National Employment Accident Insurance Institute of Italy has recognized the coronavirus infections of healthcare professionals as occupational diseases. Additionally, the German list of occupational diseases mentions virus infections. Finally yet importantly, Canadian Workers’ Compensation boards compensate people if there’s solid proof they’ve been exposed to the coronavirus at work.

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In the United Kingdom, COVID-19 isn’t yet classified as an occupational disease. The good news is that a proposition has been submitted to rectify the situation. It’s hoped that amendments will be made to the legal system soon enough to recognize COVID-19 as an occupational disease. This way, workers would be able to claim financial compensation if they fall ill. This is the idea behind recognition. In other words, to hold employers accountable for their actions. Employees are exposed to a great risk of infection and the employer is negligent in causing this illness. By suing, employees can recover monetary compensation for lost wages, medical bills, not to mention future losses.

When you become sick because of your job, you’re limited to the benefits you can get

It’s possible to make a legal claim regarding COVID-19 exposure in the workplace. As a rule, businesses haven’t treated these cases with the attention they deserve. The responses of courts have been dramatically different, judging in favour of the plaintiff. But why bother to bring a lawsuit? The fact is that workers’ compensation isn’t enough. More precisely, there are very few benefits that you can enjoy. Nowadays, employers are required to carry fewer workers’ compensation for full-time employees. It provides money for medical bills and lost time at work, but not pain and suffering.

The amount of money provided through workers’ compensation is often insufficient to cover the full extent of costs associated with an illness. This explains why many individuals decide to file a lawsuit directly against the employer. Negligence and fault come into play when determining if you should be compensated or not. The lawyer has to have enough evidence to demonstrate that the illness is connected to work. As mentioned earlier, many personal injury cases are being litigated and chances are that more will come. The severity of the illness suffered drives the compensation amount. Compensation pay-outs you could be offered depend entirely on the effect the coronavirus has had on you.

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Workers’ compensation benefits are awarded regardless of who was at fault. If your employer was particularly negligent, a lawsuit can help you recover monetary compensation that goes beyond what you could receive from workers’ compensation. Your lawyer will argue in court that your employer didn’t take the necessary measures to protect the workplace. On the contrary, they put you and others at an increased risk of exposure to the coronavirus. Nevertheless, the result depends on the laws in your state and the way in which the court interprets those laws.

To prevent claims, employers should familiarize themselves with health recommendations

More than a year into the pandemic, we’re still trying to figure what to do about the coronavirus. Transmission can be anticipated in the workplace. It’s up to the employer to offer a safe and healthy workplace. This means limiting the spread of COVID-19 in the business – an action which is required by the law. Employees should feel that they’re protected. Otherwise, they will assume that the office isn’t safe and will refuse to come back to work. When it comes to the pandemic, we’re all in this together. The efforts taken now can significantly contribute to the return to normalcy.

Changes need to be made to the work environment so that employees and clients enjoy additional protection. Besides installing physical barriers, it’s necessary to implement telework arrangements, enhance ventilation, install sanitizer dispensers, and make available PPE. Equally important is to provide sick leave so that people can stay at home if they’re not feeling alright. Individuals will be entitled to their usual sick leave and pay provisions. Employers shouldn’t be failing their workers. Ideally, employers and the governments should share responsibility.

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If your employer doesn’t take the coronavirus seriously it’s important to react right away. One of the best things you can do is join forces with your co-workers and bring up the issue. You can point out that it’s not socially responsible or smart for a company to ignore health and safety guidelines. Alternatively, you can reach out to someone from the HR department. Your company should make serious virus prevention efforts. Last but certainly not least, you should bring the matter to a court of law. Nobody should get to flout the rules.