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Can I get benefits and pay if I am an essential worker and have to quarantine due to on the job exposure?

May 9th, 2020 Victoria Breese

The answer depends on what state you live (and quarantine) in. 10 states have made it clear that wage replacement benefits are available through workman’s compensation on a case by case basis, but insurance funds in other states have not made it clear yet if they plan to look at these claims case by case or deny all of them outright. The answer could also depend on what industry you work in. For example, in Washington, workers comp will pay for wage-loss and medical costs of any health care worker or first responder who is quarantined due to the Coronavirus. However, any claims in Washington outside of health care or emergency services will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

New York Workers’ Compensation Laws On Coronavirus

Under the New York Workers’ Compensation Law (“NYWCL”), most New York employers must provide cash and medical benefits to covered employees who suffer and injury or illness “arising out of and in the course of” their job. Whether Coronavirus is eligible for benefits depends on whether the virus and required quarantine is considered an “occupational disease” under the NYWCL. New York State has not confirmed whether or not it will consider Coronavirus an occupational disease. For any illness that is not mentioned by New York, you must show a direct link between your illness and the nature of your position in order to qualify for benefits. So, you are more likely to qualify for benefits if the nature of your job places you at a high risk of becoming infected. Under this theory, healthcare workers who constantly come into contact with sick patients would be more likely to get benefits in New York than office workers who do not deal with the general public. We will have to wait and see if this theory turns out to be true as more employees become quarantined and file claims. If you are unsure if you qualify for workers’ compensation, you should speak to an experienced attorney. 

Other Benefits for New Yorkers in Quarantine 

In addition to workman’s compensation, essential workers may be eligible for other benefits while in quarantine. For most workers with an employer of 10 or fewer employees as of January 1st and a business net annual income less than $1 million, you may qualify for New York Paid Family Leave and disability benefits. For most workers with an employer of 11-99 employees as of January 1st, and smaller employers (1-10 employees) with a business net annual income greater than $1 million, you get at least five days of paid sick leave first, and then may get a combination of Paid Family Leave and disability benefits. For most workers with an employer of 100 or more employees as of January 1st, your employer must provide you with at least 14 days of paid sick leave. If you are unsure what benefits you qualify for, you should speak to an experienced attorney.

Seek Legal Assistance Today

If you cannot work due to quarantine, seek legal assistance today. The Working Solutions Law Firm, located in New York City, can assist you. Contact us today at (646) 430-7930 to schedule a free case evaluation and receive experienced legal counsel.