Notice: Our staff is working without interruption during this time. Please do not hesitate to call, email or chat with us.
Call Today 505.219.2176
Does Workers' Compensation Cover COVID-19?

Does Workers' Compensation Cover COVID-19?

Workers’ compensation is an insurance program that employers pay into for their employees. Simply put, if employees are hurt on the job, they can file for workers’ comp and receive benefits for medical bills, lost wages, etc. It is a great program that benefits workers with financial protection, and it helps keep employers safe from liability lawsuits.

By now, it’s common knowledge that the COVID-19 pandemic has deeply affected employment in all 50 states and, indeed, across the world. Job loss has skyrocketed, as has the number of people who have filed for unemployment. There are many fortunate people who have kept their jobs and even had the ability to work from home. Unfortunately, there are many who, to stay working, have been forced to keep leaving the house and showing up to work, possibly exposing themselves to the virus.

As interactions with others cause infections to rise, there is a slew of new questions surrounding employment and employee benefits. If employers are forcing their workers to show up in an office, will they take responsibility when one of them gets sick? Should they be forced to do so?

This is an especially hot topic in regards to frontline and essential workers. Healthcare and hospital workers, who already face exposure to sick people, are now interacting with individuals infected with COVID-19. Jobs that used to be low risk, like working in a grocery store, have now become high-risk occupations as workers interact with the general public.

Workers’ compensation guidelines vary from state to state, county to county, and job to job. Different occupations are exposed to different risks, and the workers’ comp benefits reflect that. An office worker is much less likely to be attacked on the job than a prison worker. People regularly exposed to dangerous chemicals may be eligible for types of cancer insurance, and firefighters usually have extra protection for lung damage.

Across all occupations, it is uncommon for flus and colds to be claimed for workers’ comp benefits. It’s difficult, maybe impossible, to pinpoint the origins of common illnesses to the workplace, so insurance companies are unlikely to pay out for them. That’s why we have paid sick days for most full-time work.

All of this brings us back to the question of COVID-19. Since it is spread like a flu, you can contract it from anywhere, not just at work. However, some jobs have a higher risk of infection based on their interactions with others. Are you eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits if you contract the COVID-19 virus? The answer is, in most states, yes.

State Response

So far, there has been no nationwide consensus on how to give benefits to workers affected by COVID-19. Plans vary from state to state, and the responses have been wide-ranging. Many states are allowing coverage for just healthcare workers. Some have broadened that to cover any essential worker. Others have included any worker who can show that they caught the virus on the job, and some states have thrown out all qualifications and made COVID-19 compensation available to everyone. There are also states that haven’t changed anything and offer no extra help.

The states that have made additions to workers’ comp have done so through laws that were passed, executive orders, memorandums, policy changes, and the like.

New Mexico’s Plan

On April 23, 2020, Governor Michelle Grisham signed Executive Order 2020-025. In it, she declared that medical workers, from doctors all the way to custodial staff, are eligible for workers’ comp if they get COVID-19. The coverage also extends to certain state workers and volunteers.

With states opening up and less people taking precautions, it seems unlikely that more job designations will be added to the order. However, you may secure the services of a lawyer to see if they can help argue for you and get your benefits should you contract COVID-19 on the job.

If you’ve gotten sick at work, set up a free consultation with us today. We have years of experience in getting workers the benefits they deserve. You can reach us online or at (505) 219-2176.


Contact Michael J. Doyle

Get Started With a Free Initial Consultation
    • Please enter your first name.
    • Please enter your last name.
    • Please enter your email address.
      This isn't a valid email address.
    • This isn't a valid phone number.
    • Please make a selection.
    • Please enter a message.