Workers’ Compensation and COVID-19: What Employers Need to Know
The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) and Ohio Industrial Commission have made changes to the processing and adjudication of workers’ compensation claims in light of COVID-19 (a.k.a. coronavirus). The primary changes are outlined below:
- To minimize any chance of interruption of benefits, the BWC will automatically continue current payments of temporary total disability, working wage loss/non-working wage loss and living maintenance compensation through April 30, 2020.
- The BWC has suspended all independent medical examinations (IMEs), but is exploring alternative means of obtaining medical evidence including the possibility of “virtual” examinations.
- For state-funded employers, the BWC has deferred premium installment payments for March, April, and May to June 1, 2020.
- In person audits have been suspended, but the BWC will continue paper and virtual audits.
- The Industrial Commission is conducting limited telephone hearings on only the issues of allowance, additional allowance, temporary total disability compensation, wage loss and permanent total disability compensation until further notice.
The BWC also has issued guidance on the compensability of COVID-19 as an occupational disease. Generally communicable diseases like COVID-19 are not compensable because people are exposed in a variety of ways and few jobs have a hazard or risk of getting the disease in greater degree or different than that of the general public. That said, the BWC maintains COVID-19 may be compensable if an employee works in a job that poses a special hazard or risk and contracts COVID-19 as a result of that work exposure.
During this unprecedented time, we are closely monitoring changes to BWC and Industrial Commission policies and procedures. Should you have any questions about how these changes will impact your business please contact Mark A. Shaw, Melissa A. Ebel or C. Awele Nwajei.
At the date of publication the above information was correct. It is quite possible the information above has changed as COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving situation.
The article in this publication has been prepared by Eastman & Smith Ltd. for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney/client relationship.