The spread of COVID-19 across the country has impacted businesses in a variety of ways. From shuttering doors to transitioning to telework to closing jobsites and more, there’s no doubt that your business has been affected by the pandemic in some form. The spread of the respiratory virus will also impact the world of workers’ compensation, including raised insurance premiums and a forecasted spike in claims over this summer.
As legislation is changing by the hour, contractors have a lot of questions about how the pandemic could impact their premiums. In this article, a workers’ compensation defense attorney in Florida will answer some of these most common questions for construction businesses. For accurate legal advice, consult the construction attorneys at Cotney Construction Law.
1) Is COVID-19 covered under Florida’s workers’ compensation acts?
The current answer is probably yes, but not always. Occupational diseases are covered under the workers’ compensation acts of most states. A recent executive order from Gov. Ron DeSantis requires an employer to provide coverage for an employee “that suffers a compensable injury arising out of work performed in the course and scope of employment. First responders, health care workers, and others that contract COVID-19 due to work-related exposure would be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits under Florida law.”
The order clearly covers essential workers in industries with a higher probability of exposure. However, it doesn’t say much regarding employees outside of healthcare. As we are still learning more about the virus every day, it’s difficult to determine if exposure of COVID-19 is compensable. It’s best for employers to do everything in their power to provide their employees with a safe workplace and to consult a workers’ compensation defense lawyer in Florida with specific questions related to a claim.
2) If work has ceased due to COVID-19 and I continue to pay my workforce, will this affect my workers’ compensation premium total? Also, if I elect to increase pay as an incentive to work will my premium calculations increase?
According to the National Council on Compensation Insurance, due to the unique set of circumstances COVID-19 has presented to workplaces, payments made to workers that are not actively working will not be used in calculating the premium. However, if an employer elects to increase payroll as an incentive for employees to return to work, this increase in pay will be included in calculating the premium.
3) If we continue operations but workers are transitioned to other roles to meet the demand, will their classification be altered?
Employees either working in a dual role or that are temporarily moved to a new role will likely not change classification. A change in classification will occur if:
- The employer’s operations have changed to a new classification
- Or if the employee’s classification in their new role has changed within the company
Consult a construction attorney to learn more about worker classification requirements.
4) Will the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) impact calculations of premiums? How does the new legislation impact the treatment of payroll?
FFCRA is actually unrelated to workers’ compensation coverage. Qualified sick leave provided under the new act is excluded from workers’ compensation premium calculations. For employers with 500 or less employees, they are required to provide two weeks of paid leave to employees for qualified COVID-19-related reasons, but none of the provisions within FFCRA apply to workers’ compensation.
If you would like to speak with a workers’ compensation defense attorney in Florida, please contact us today.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.