Numerous states in 2020 passed laws that would allow essential workers and others to receive compensation if they contracted COVID-19 at work. Mississippi did not follow this route. However, the state Workers’ Compensation Commission already has language in place that courts could interpret as including COVID-19.
Employers with questions regarding Mississippi workers’ compensation insurance should check with their insurance agents to ensure they have the appropriate coverage as many employees return to in-person work. Additionally, businesses may also want to take a self-inventory of preparatory steps to protect workers, customers, and visitors as more businesses return to business-as-usual.
What can businesses do to reduce their risks of COVID-19 workers’ compensation claims?
Companies have already become used to adapting to changing government requirements and public health advice. Much of the economy is reopening and workers are returning to retail shops, offices, and other work environments. Employers must remain alert to deal with potential threats regarding future outbreaks among unvaccinated employees or in response to new strains of the coronavirus.
Smart employers will conduct comprehensive reviews of hygiene and sanitation programs and continue to educate employees regarding hand hygiene and the need to prevent the spread of germs in the workplace.
There are several areas where small to large businesses will have to review existing practices in place to follow the letter of the law for Mississippi workers compensation insurance regulations:
Clear communications to employees can prevent misunderstandings and help businesses to maintain safe, hygienic workplaces.
The current law doesn’t distinguish COVID-19 from any other occupational disease or work injury. According to MS Code § 71-3-5, “Compensation shall be payable for disability or death of an employee from injury or occupational disease arising out of and in the course of employment, without regard to fault as to the cause of the injury or occupational disease.”
While employees who get COVID-19 at work may fall under the definition above depending on the interpretation, the burden of proof is on the worker filing a Mississippi workers’ compensation insurance claim.
Still have questions on Mississippi workers’ compensation insurance? Make an appointment with Hawsey Insurance at one of our offices in Jackson, Madison, or Southaven, MS. You can also request a free online quote.
States that passed WC laws regarding compensability of COVID 19 in the workplace: https://ogletree.com/app/uploads/covid-19/COVID-19-Workers-Compensation-Coverage.pdf?Version=12
(MS has not)
Title 71: https://law.justia.com/codes/mississippi/2010/title-71/3/71-3-7/ https://codes.findlaw.com/ms/title-71-labor-and-industry/ms-code-sect-71-3-7.html