Grocery, Postal Workers Get WC Benefits for COVID-19

Nancy Grover

Frankfurt, KY ( – “Kentuckians who, because of the nature of their employment, are at risk of being exposed to or contracting COVID-19 should be protected by workers’ compensation coverage,” wrote Kentucky Governor Andy Bershear in an executive order issued last week. “An employee removed from work by a physician for occupational exposure to COVID-19 shall be entitled to temporary total disability payments pursuant to KRS 342.730(1)(a) during the period of removal even if the employer ultimately denies liability for the claim. In order for the exposure to be ‘occupational,’ there must be a causal connection between the conditions under which the work is performed and COVID-19, and which can be seen to have followed as a natural incident to the work as a result of the exposure occasioned by the nature of the employment.”

In addition to healthcare workers and first responders, the executive order also applies to grocery workers and postal service workers. Other employees included are corrections officers, military, activated National Guard, domestic violence shelter workers, child advocacy workers, rape crisis center staff, Department for Community Based Service workers, and child care workers permitted by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to provide child care in a limited duration center during the State of Emergency.

The order says the benefits are payable from the first day the worker is removed from work. It applies to “all insurance carriers providing workers’ compensation insurance coverage in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, self-insured groups and any employer carrying its own risk and authorized to self-insure in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.” The payments, however, do not waive the employer’s right to contest its liability for the claim or other benefits to be provided.

The order does not specify an end date. Instead it says it is in effect during the state of emergency or until it is rescinded “by further order or operation of law.”

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