What Does COVID-19 Mean for Workers’ Compensation in Ohio

COVID-19 has changed the face of health care and business in a mere matter of months.

“Many employers didn’t have the resources or means to have employees work from home. When the Governor lifted the ‘stay-at-home’ mandate, it created additional challenges for employers to adhere to COVID safety protocols, as they brought employees back to the workplace,” says Kim Jaconette, Training Director, Health Management Solutions.

But what about how it’s affecting workers’ compensation in Ohio and what do those changes mean for employers? Let’s take a look.

  1. What is the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) doing to help employers during this unprecedented time?
    • At the request of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, the BWC sent up to $1.6 billion to Ohio employers in hopes of lessening the economic impact of COVID-19, specifically, on Ohio’s economy and businesses. Each active private employer received a dividend.
    • The BWC is also giving employers until Sept. 1, 2020, to pay installments for June, July and August. Furthermore, the BWC will still provide coverage without penalties for unpaid installments during this time.
  2. If an employee contracts COVID-19, is it a compensable workers’ compensation claim?
    It depends. If an employee contracts COVID-19 on the job in a position that poses a special hazard or risk, then yes. That could be considered a compensable worker’s compensation claim. Otherwise, in general, communicable diseases aren’t usually considered for worker’s compensation because there are so many ways one can contract such a disease.
  3. If an employee is quarantined due to COVID-19, can they receive workers’ compensation wage replacement benefits? The BWC can only pay compensation if the allowed claim for disability results from allowed conditions.
  4. Is the BWC making determinations on new claims? Absolutely. The BWC staff is working remotely and is processing claims.
  5. Has the BWC modified its delivery of care for injured workers through telemedicine and telephone services?

Yes. The BWC has expanded its use of telemedicine and telephone services during COVID-19. Specifically, injured workers can receive telehealth care from home. Telephone communication has also been approved as a temporary substitute for some vocational rehabilitation services.

Worker’s compensation regulatory guidance is constantly changing during the pandemic. For more information, please visit info.bwc.ohio.gov and hmssolutions.com.

 

 

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