Historically, transmissible illnesses aren’t covered by workers’ compensation. But, like nearly all things, the pandemic has turned this regulation on its head.
In an effort to protect businesses and their employees, many state legislatures have considered amending workers’ comp coverage. They’re looking for ways to extend it to certain employees who contract COVID-19 in the workplace, especially if those employees are healthcare providers.
Where does that leave assisted living facilities, care homes, or personal caregivers? Let’s find out.
Extended coverage for certain California employees
On September 17, the Governor approved Senate Bill No. 1159. If you don’t want to read through the extensive text of the bill, we’ve distilled it down for you here.
Who the bill covers
In addition to firefighters, law enforcement officers, and other critical workers, the bill extends workers’ compensation coverage for COVID-19 to:
- “An employee who provides direct patient care, or a custodial employee in contact with COVID-19 patients, who works at a health facility”
- “An employee who provides direct patient care for a home health agency”
- “A provider of in-home supportive services”
The bill says that the above distinctions apply as defined in Section 1250 of the Health and Safety Code. Per that section of the state code, this bill offers extended workers’ comp COVID-19 coverage to employees of:
- Skilled nursing facilities, including small-house skilled nursing facilities
- Congregate living health facilities
- Nursing facilities
- Hospice facilities
In other words, if you run an assisted living facility, a residential care facility for the elderty, a care home, or provide in-home care, you’re most likely covered under Senate Bill No. 1159.
What the bill covers
Technically, workers’ compensation covers injuries sustained in the course of work. Section 2 of this bill says that injury now includes illness or death from COVID-19 for the above workers. But there are some caveats here.
Specifically, workers’ comp coverage only applies if a COVID-19 diagnosis is delivered by a licensed doctor or surgeon (M.D. or D.O.) or a physician assistant or nurse practitioner under an M.D./D.O.’s supervision. An at-home test is probably not going to be enough to get workers’ comp to kick in.
Additionally, the positive COVID-19 test needs to come within 14 days of performing work at the assisted living facility, care home, etc.
If that’s the case, workers’ compensation should cover full medical treatment — including hospital stays and care — along with disability coverage while the employee is sick. In this case, they use their paid sick leave benefits first, then their temporary disability benefits kick in.
Ultimately, this gives residential care facility owners and managers more to think about. A workers’ compensation claim can be a major headache — made doubly so when guided by relatively new state legislation. Stay extra diligent to keep your residents and your employees safe. And make sure you have the proper insurance protections — including sufficient workers’ compensation coverage — in place. For a workers’ comp policy tailored to your facility’s unique needs, contact our team at InsuremyRCFE.com or start your online quote today.