Chief Financial Officer of Florida Orders Processing of COVID-19 Workers' Compensation Claims
Jimmy Patronis, the Chief Financial Officer for the state of Florida, has stated that the Division of Risk Management must provide workers’ compensation benefits to employees who have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
The order from Patronis aims to provide workers at the forefront of the coronavirus pandemic with resources if they have been infected with the disease at their place of work. Employees who may be eligible for virus-related workers’ compensation benefits include “law enforcement officers, government-employed emergency medical technicians and paramedics, correctional officers, state employees in the healthcare field who directly interact with those infected with or tested for COVID-19, child safety investigators and Florida National Guard members who are mobilized in response to the pandemic. It does not, however, include similar workers in the private sector,” according to a report from the Tampa Bay Times. Other states, including Washington and Kentucky, are also allowing infected frontline employees to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
The hopeful next step for workers in Florida is coverage for private-sector employees, such as family doctors, grocery store workers, and delivery drivers. Such workers are also at risk for COVID-19 exposure; however, the state of Florida cannot legally order private workers’ compensation insurance companies to provide coverage. Workers in the private sector who contract COVID-19 through work will need to go through the standard channels of receiving workers’ compensation benefits, and will likely face difficulties when attempting to file a claim. Proving that a diagnosis is work-related will be the greatest hardship for many employees attempting to recover workers’ compensation benefits.