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What to Do If You’ve Been Exposed to Coronavirus at Work


In the context of the Coronavirus outbreak, life is no longer as we know it, in many ways. The most affected sectors are the health and economic ones.

The reason why so many people develop strong feelings of anxiety because of the pandemic is often not limited to health concerns, but also their state of employment and financial future.

Many workers have questions about how their employer will handle crisis situations related to the coronavirus pandemic.

What Do I Do If a Colleague Is Confirmed Positive With Coronavirus?

First of all, your employer must take certain measures in case one of their employees is confirmed positive. You can expect your employer to inform all of you if a member of your team has the virus.

Due to the circumstances, though, most employers follow the CDC recommendations and keep their employees informed. 

If one of your colleagues has tested positive for coronavirus, your employer must determine who has had close contact with that person. For employees who work in essential sectors like healthcare or retail, being exposed to the coronavirus might not automatically mean staying at home, but closely monitoring their health over the next 14 days and wearing protective gear in case they are asymptomatic carriers. This should be discussed with your healthcare provider.

If any of the employees show specific coronavirus infection symptoms (like fever, dry cough, tiredness, etc.), they should be sent home by their employer. You are generally offered the option to take paid leave or medical leave. 

What Legal Rights Do I Have If I’ve Been Exposed to Coronavirus at Work?

This question is not easy to answer, as the circumstances can vary day by day, on top of dealing with an unprecedented situation like this. Employers are required by default to ensure that the workplace is a safe environment for their employees. However, when dealing with a virus that you could get anywhere, your employer’s liability remains under question. 

Should your employer be held liable if you got infected with coronavirus at work? You will be surprised to find out that the answer may be no, because you could get it from anywhere. This is the reason why flu and viral infections are not easily a strong case for workers’ compensation. How can one prove that they got the virus at work? The discussion changes for employees who work in an environment where the exposure can be exponentially bigger, like workers in a hospital, airport, and so on.

Will Workers’ Compensation Cover Me if I Get Infected with Coronavirus?

As mentioned above, it’s all about being able to prove that you have contracted the virus as a result of your employment. There are many details to be considered in such a challenging workers’ comp case. We strongly recommend getting in touch with an experienced St. Louis workers’ comp lawyer to see if you are eligible for compensation or what your alternatives may be.

Updated: May 28, 2020
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