Inslee announces workers’ compensation coverage to include quarantined health workers and first responders

Today, Gov.   Jay Inslee and Joel Sacks, director of the Washington Department of Labor   & Industries (L&I) announced that the state is taking steps to ensure   workers’ compensation protections for health care workers and first   responders who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak.

L&I is   immediately changing its policy around workers’ compensation coverage for   health care workers and first responders who are quarantined by a physician   or public health officer.

Under the clarified   policy, L&I will provide benefits to these workers during the time   they’re quarantined after being exposed to COVID-19 on the job.

“These   health care workers and first responders are protecting our communities,”   said Inslee. “They need to know that we have their backs. This is the right   thing to do.”

Workers’   compensation coverage can include medical testing, cover treatment expenses   if a worker becomes ill or injured and provide time-loss payments for those   who cannot work if they are sick or quarantined.

“Health   care workers and first responders are playing a key role in the COVID-19   response,” said L&I Director Joel Sacks. “We need them to go to work   knowing they will be taken care of if they are exposed to this new   coronavirus and have to be quarantined or get sick.”

While   L&I is taking this step to bolster coverage for certain types of workers,   the agency is also encouraging employers to continue to pay workers who are   quarantined after being exposed. Time loss is partial payment and does not replace   a worker’s entire income. Quarantined workers who continue to be paid by   their employer may not need to file a workers’ compensation claim.

Current   L&I rules already provide for workers’ compensation coverage if health   care providers and first responders become sick in connection with their job   duties. 

Workers can   file a workers’ compensation claim up to two years after being exposed to a   disease at work. The expanded coverage takes effect immediately and covers   eligible workers already under quarantine.