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Workers’ Compensation and Employment Stance in the COVID-19 Pandemic

On behalf of Brad Wicker of BDIW Law posted on Wednesday July 1, 2020.

Find out how COVID-19 and issues concerning your employment stance could impact your rights to workers’ compensation benefits.

Numerous businesses throughout Oklahoma City and Tulsa were forced to close due to stay-home orders issued at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Even at companies that remained open, many workers faced lay-offs and dramatic reductions of hours. As the state begins the slow process of reopening, many are being called back to work. At the same time, new cases of COVID-19 continue to be reported each day. The changing natures of the situation has people collecting workers’ compensation benefits and those seeking to file claims rightfully concerned. The following details how changes in your employment status could impact your rights to these benefits.

Concerns Over Employment Status Due to COVID-19

According to the latest information from the Oklahoma Department of Health, there have been close to 8,000 people diagnosed with the coronavirus throughout the state. While some days show a drop in confirmed diagnoses, others reveal slight increases. This has many people, including government officials and members of the general public, concerned about the risk of easing pandemic-related restrictions previously put in place.

For many businesses, there are financial incentives to reopen. In addition to potential profits, the small business loans many employers received require them to get workers back on the job. Unfortunately, this often puts employees in a tight spot. Being offered work and refusing it would impact their rights to unemployment benefits. It could also result in their being fired from their jobs. At the same time, a May 2020 USA Today report states that many have concerns about how returning to the job could put their health at risk. While no one wants to be out of work indefinitely, polls show that more than 50% of people in the U.S. believe businesses are reopening too soon. For workers with certain types of chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems, going back to work is a risk they may not want to take.

COVID-19 and Workers’ Compensation Claims

There are some major concerns about how coronavirus-related closures and reopenings could impact rights concerning Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation claims. Impacts based on job status include:

  • For workers who were receiving benefits prior to temporary business closures: Provided your employer continued to pay their insurance, you should continue to receive benefits.
  • For workers who contracted COVID-19 after being forced to go back to work: These workers may be entitled to file workers’ compensation claims.
  • For workers at businesses forced to shut down permanently as a result of the pandemic and for those who refuse to return to work: These workers face the biggest risks when it comes to their rights to benefits.

Contact Our Tulsa, OK Workers’ Compensation Attorneys

At BDIW Law, we can answer your questions regarding how changes in employment stance impact your rights to benefits. Call 918-728-6500 or contact our Tulsa, OK workers’ compensation attorneys online to request a consultation today.