VT: Governor Says COVID Presumption Law Provides ‘Additional Peace of Mind’

Nancy Grover

Montpelier, VT (Workerscompensation.com) – Add Vermont to the jurisdictions with rebuttable presumptions for certain workers who contract COVID-19. Gov. Phil Scott signed Senate Bill 342 into law this week.

“In the case of a front-line worker, disability or death resulting from COVID-19 shall be presumed to be compensable pursuant to 21 V.S.A. chapter 9, provided that the front-line worker receives a positive laboratory test for COVID-19 or a diagnosis of COVID-19 from a licensed healthcare provider between March 1, 2020 and January 15, 2021,” the new law says.

Front line workers includes firefighters, law enforcement officers, emergency medical personnel and volunteer personnel, workers in a healthcare facility or institution where healthcare services are provided, correctional officers, workers in a long term care facility or residential care facility, certain childcare providers, home healthcare workers or personal care attendants, death care workers, and workers performing services that the Commissioner determines place the worker at a similarly elevated risk of being exposed to or contracting COVID-19.

“For an employee who is not a front-line worker as defined [here], disability or death resulting from COVID19 shall be presumed to be compensable pursuant to 21 V.S.A. chapter 9 if the employee receives a positive laboratory test for COVID-19 or a diagnosis of COVID-19 from a licensed healthcare provider between April 1, 2020 and January 15, 2021 and, not more than 14 days prior to the date on which the employee is tested or examined…”

Scott noted that the protections in the bill are temporary and will expire. He also that even without the legislation, the current workers’ compensation system is already approving coverage for COVID-19-related claims.

“…the current workers’ compensation system would most likely provide the appropriate coverage and compensation for any Vermonter engaged in a job that increases their risk of contracting COVID-19 through workplace exposure,” Scott said in a statement. “S.342 provides additional peace of mind for workers; and when the presumption expires, the existing system would continue to provide protection. In fact, due to the pandemic response, there is arguably more documentation available to workers and insurers, in the form of contact tracing, to help verify claims for work-related illness.”

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