This bill has been passed into law to compensate first responders and health care providers who contract COVID-19 through performance of their jobs. This amendment also expands the definition of first responders to include individuals employed by a health care facility, the office of a physician or dentist, a local health department, a nursing home, a retirement facility, a home health care provider, a pharmacy, a facility performing medical or lab testing on humans, or any entity that is similar to these. So if you were forced to miss work due to exposure to COVID-19 while employed at any of these or similar workplaces, you may be entitled to receive workers’ compensation!
Most first responder positions require regular testing for COVID-19. In order to qualify for benefits, first responders need to use every testing opportunity provided to them and follow any employer specific COVID-19 safety guidelines that are in place.
The Utah State Legislature recently passed a bill to amend the Worker’s Compensation Act to provide specific compensation to first responders and health care providers who contract COVID-19. Here are the main takeaways from the bill:
-First responders are especially prone to contracting COVID-19 while performing their jobs.
-If a first responder is diagnosed with COVID-19 after working with a person who is known to have COVID-19, they are eligible to file a worker’s comp claim.
-Volunteer first responder workers may also be eligible for worker’s compensation benefits if they contract COVID-19 while performing their normal work duties.
It is important to be tested after every encounter with COVID-19. First Responders who refuse to be tested for the disease are not entitled to the benefits under this amendment. As with any other worker’s comp claim, it is critical to file as soon as possible in order to be entitled to the most benefits possible. In the case of COVID-19 claims, the “date of accident” is the earliest date that a worker was a.) diagnosed with COVID-19, b.) unable to work because of symptoms that later lead to a COVID-19 diagnosis, or c.) the worker’s employment is terminated and they are diagnosed with COVID-19 within 2 weeks after the day they were terminated. This means that the Worker’s Comp Claim should be filed on or soon after the earliest of those dates.
This bill still hasn’t been signed by the Governor, but both the house and the senate of Utah have passed it. We will keep you posted about what happens in the coming weeks! In the mean time, if you are a first responder or know anyone who works as a first responder, make sure they are aware of this update to the Worker’s Compensation Act. If you have any further questions about what benefits you might qualify for if you find yourself out of work due to an injury or sickness, call us at 435-592-1235