If an employee contracts COVID-19 while at work, it would likely be considered a work-related injury which would be covered by the Workers Compensation Act and administered through WorkSafeBC. The nature of COVID-19 and the fact that symptoms may not develop for a considerable period may make it difficult to assess whether the employee was exposed at work or during the course of their work. Some employment situations may make this more obvious, or if another employee or customer of the employer unwittingly exposed others at work. The key to determining whether the employee would be entitled to WorkSafeBC benefits is whether it is work-related exposure.
If the employee is sick due to work-related exposure, then WorkSafeBC benefits generally cover lost wages during the absence from work and a permanent impairment that may result from the exposure.
Another avenue of triggering WorkSafeBC benefits may arise in circumstances where an employee is required to leave work due to stress and anxiety associated with the fear of exposure to COVID-19. WorkSafeBC does cover mental health disorders provided that the disorder has a significant work-related stressor or was caused by a traumatic work-related event. Benefits may include the following:
- Support for returning to work
- Compensation for lost wages
- The costs of treatment by a doctor, psychologist, or psychiatrist
- The costs of treatment for a mental health program
- The costs of prescription drugs needed to treat the disorder
As always, before making a decision, it is always safest to check your position with an Employment lawyer who can guide you through the myriad of ever changing issues surrounding COVID-19, and the unprecedented recommendations for self-quarantine, travel restrictions, and closures of non-essential businesses.
Please feel free to contact the Employment Law Group at Doak Shirreff Lawyers LLP for more information by contacting Scott Chambers at [email protected], or call 250-763-4323, or through our toll-free number at 1-800-661-4959. We can consult with you remotely as needed.