After being out of the workplace due to businesses closing, furloughs, caring for children whose schools were shuttered, caring for loved ones, or due to working remotely, many Floridians have now returned to the office and are back to work in a traditional sense (although whether or not there is anything traditional during this very trying time is a subject for another discussion).
From teachers to lawyers to restaurant workers and every industry in between, a large majority of Florida’s workforce is back to work. Although, it does not seem like much has changed since we were initially out of work to now. The COVID-19 pandemic is still very much around us and our lives are still very much altered. As we return to work, there are mask requirements, temperature checks, social distancing, only two people allowed in the elevator at a time (which certainly presents unique challenges in our office building), etc… We have been asked to alter our personal and work lives in an effort to do our part to make sure we are doing everything we can to be safe, courteous, and help to stop the spread.
A very valid concern that we all have as we return to work is contracting the virus while doing our jobs. Are you covered in this instance? The answer is “maybe.” According to data put out by Chief Judge Langham via his informative blog post and able to be reviewed at https://flojcc.blogspot.com/ approximately half of COVID-19 claims have been accepted as compensable, and benefits being provided. As previously discussed, there are some industries in Florida where there is a presumption that if you contacted COVID-19 it is presumed to be from the job.
In Florida, this presumption applies to state “frontline” employees. What is considered “frontline” may be up for debate, but none the less there is a presumption that the job is the cause of your infection. Other states have started to introduce similar presumption legislation wherein if you contract the virus, it is presumed to be from the workplace, with no limitation on the type of work you do. Other presumptions will depend on the type of work you do, such as legislation for first responders. Regardless of the type of work you do, with a virus that is so easily transmissible, all of us are at risk.
Our first layer of defense is of course to be safe and follow the guidelines put in place to help protect ourselves and our co-workers. If you believe that you are sick, stay home. If you, unfortunately, get infected and believe it was due to an exposure at work, make sure to report it to the appropriate human resources representative. One concern we all have if we get infected, aside from our health concerns which are first and foremost, is a financial concern. Our bills certainly do not stop coming when we are out of work.
Luckily, there are some programs set up to help alleviate the financial strain. Some employers are required to pay sick leave if you are out due to COVID-19 and there are unemployment benefits, to name a few. Under workers’ compensation laws, if you are out of work due to the virus and your claim is accepted as compensable you will be entitled to indemnity (missed wage) benefits in addition to medical treatment provided by your employer’s insurance carrier.
Throughout Mr. Masnikoff’s twenty-year career he has worked tirelessly to ensure that Floridians are provided quick and efficient medical and missed wage benefits under the law so that they are able to return to gainful employment. If you or a loved one have questions regarding what to do if you have contracted Coronavirus through your employment, please contact us as we are here to answer any question. The consultation is always free. We practice throughout Florida and you can reach any one of our offices at (877)817-4127. Stay safe, and we will all get through this together!