Education Workers: Is COVID Covered Under Workers Compensation?

As our schools re-open and students return to the classroom, many education workers have questions about COVID and Workers Compensation coverage.

At this time, the answer is likely no, school employees would not be covered by Workers’ Compensation for COVID-19, though this is dependent on the specific scenario and circumstances, including specific job tasks. The information below comes directly from L&I’s Workers’ Compensation Coverage and Coronavirus (COVID-19) Common Questions (wa.gov).

“Can COVID-19 ever be allowed as a work-related condition?”
Under certain circumstances, claims from health care providers and first responders involving COVID-19 may be allowed. Other claims that meet certain criteria for exposure will be considered on a case-by-case basis…” (WA State Department of Labor and Industries, 2020).

“When to file a claim?”
The Industrial Insurance Act allows for treatment of COVID-19 when work-related activity has resulted in probable exposure to the virus and certain criteria are met. In these cases, the worker’s occupation must have a greater likelihood of contracting the disease because of the job, (examples include first responders or health care workers). There must also be a documented or probable work-related exposure, and an employee/employer relationship.

Before helping a worker file a workers’ compensation claim, the treating provider should consider if the following
criteria are met:
* Was there an increased risk or greater likelihood of contracting the condition due to the worker’s occupation
(such as a first responder or health care worker)?
* If not for their job, would the worker have been exposed to the virus or contracted the condition?
* Can the worker identify a specific source or event during the performance of his or her employment that resulted in exposure to the new coronavirus, (examples include a first responder or health care worker who has actually treated a patient with the virus)?

If the above criteria are not met, it is not necessary to file a workers’ compensation claim; however, a claim may still be
filed if requested by the worker or if the provider is uncertain if the case meets the criteria.” (WA State Department of
Labor and Industries, 2020)


“When will a claim likely be denied?”
When the contraction of COVID-19 is incidental to the workplace or common to all employment (such as an office worker who contracts the condition from a fellow employee), a claim for exposure to and contraction of the disease will be denied.” (WA State Department of Labor and Industries, 2020)

In addition, this PDF COVID-19_Scenarios and Benefits.pdf (wa.gov) can be helpful to determine what benefits may be available. Currently, the state recognizes first responder COVID-19 claims only. If you have questions regarding a specific claim or situation, the Workers’ Compensation Trust is here to help and will keep you apprised of changes as they occur.