Mandatory Covid-19 Vaccines and Workers Comp
Now that the COVID-19 vaccine is being more widely distributed in California, many questions are arising about employer who require workers to get vaccinated. While some of these issues are straightforward, many of the implications about workplace inoculation as it relates to workers comp are complicated.
In this article the experienced California workers comp attorneys at Cantrell Green address some of our clients most commonly asked questions about mandatory workplace COVID-19 vaccines.
If I get coronavirus in the workplace, can I collect works’ comp?
The short answer: Possibly
The long answer: In most cases, contracting any type of flu, cold or other airborne illness would not be considered a work-related injury or condition that entitled the employee to workers comp benefits. However, in California, Governor Newsom has released an Executive Order that now makes it easier for employees to collect workers comp for coronavirus (Covid-19) that may have been contracted at work.
Employees whose work is directly related to coronavirus exposure (doctors, nurses, testing lab workers, first responders, medical office and hospital staff) as well as many essential workers will likely be eligible for workers comp if they have contracted Covid-19 at work.
To read more about this complex issue CLICK HERE.
Can my employer require that I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
The short answer: Yes
The long answer: The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”) updated its COVID-19 related guidelines this month – so long as the employer adheres to the requirements of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”).
This simply means that the employer must not discriminate against or harass employees based on a “protected characteristic” – such as a sincerely held religious belief or a disability – that prevents them from being vaccinated.
Several Federal government agencies – including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have also stated that employers can require employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
If I get sick or have complications from a mandatory COVID-19 vaccine, can I get workers comp?
The short answer: Probably
The long answer: Cases of prolonged illness from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine are extremely rare. This is especially true in younger and healthier people who make up most of the working population. So our attorneys have not seen any cases, yet, where a worker became sick after getting a work-mandated vaccination.
However, any illness that results from a condition of employment should qualify you for workers compensation benefits. So this would typically include a vaccine reaction, in the unlikely event that your boss required it and a serious complication occurred.
If I refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccine and then I contract the coronavirus, can I still get workers comp?
The short answer: Probably.
The long answer: The California workers’ compensation system is a “no-fault” system intended to provide injured workers with medical treatment and a small amount of money to live on until they are able to return to work. This means that it doesn’t matter whose fault the illness or injury was in determining whether you can collect workers compensation.
So, assuming you are eligible to receive workers compensation for work related COVID-19, the fact that you refused a vaccine would probably not stop you from being able to collect your comp benefits.
1099 Contractors, Remote Workers and COVID-19
Keep in mind that this discussion only applies to workers who are employees and NOT 1099 independent contractors. While a company cannot require a contractor to get the Covid-19 vaccine, they are completely free to refuse to hire you if you are not vaccinated. 1099 employees are also Not covered by workers compensation.
Additionally, people who are employees but who work remotely from home are also unlikely to be able to collect workers comp for COVID-19 – because it would be unlikely or impossible that the illness occurred in the workplace. An example of an exception, however, might be someone like an Insurance Adjuster who now works remotely from home, but who still must risk exposure when out investigating claims.
California COVD-19 Workers Comp Attorneys
As always, our workers comp attorneys will keep abreast of the rapidly changing laws and legal guidelines pertaining to the coronavirus (Covid-19) situation, as well as the vaccines.
If you were injured or made ill in the workplace by Covid-19, a rare vaccine reaction, or anything else, we recommend that you speak with an experienced workers’ comp attorney immediately to understand your rights in this fluid legal landscape.
An experienced workers compensation attorney can help make sure that you not only receive your benefits now, but for as long as you need them. This is especially important with an illness like Covid-19 which is now exhibiting many debilitating long-term health effects in many survivors.
Your consultation with our workers’ comp attorneys is 100% confidential, and neither your employer nor your insurance company will be notified that you requested a consultation with us. Our attorneys will help you understand your rights and work tirelessly to ensure that you receive the maximum workers’ comp benefits for which you qualify.
California COVD-19 Workers Comp Attorneys: 800-964-8047