Employers Require Return to Work Workers Comp COVID-19 Vaccinations?
I started pondering how the Workers Comp COVID-19 vaccination process would work if an employee were returning to work with or without vaccination.
This morning, I was reading a blog post from a Law Professor from Wyoming University. I found it through a WorkCompCentral article, but the article is behind a paywall.
WorkCompCentral still has a freebie daily newsletter. I signed up for a paid subscription in 2014 (worth it).
Mr./Dr. Michael Duff (smarter than me) said that the presumption of an injury might be removed if the injured employee refused a vaccination.
The article started my brain up (after two Keurigs, ok three) with the thought that what happens to a regular return to work and workers’ comp injury return to work if the employee has not been vaccinated for COVID-19 (at least the first shot)?
Illinois Says No Comp If No COVID-19 Vaccination – Wow
Referring back to Attorney Duff’s article – Illinois may enact a law that says this:
A workers’ compensation bill filed in the Illinois House on February 19 provides, “no compensation shall be awarded to a claimant for death or disability arising out of an exposure to COVID-19 if the employee has refused a vaccination.” 820 ILCS 305/7.5 new
If one reads further down the blog page, Arkansas was also in the midst of legislative wrangling on the same matter.
My slightly twisted thinking then said – What happens if an injured worker is released to return to work and they are unvaccinated or have refused a Workers Comp COVID-19 vaccination?
Workers Comp Return To Work Disputes Spike?
Let us talk about the treating physician or an Independent Medical Exam (IME) physician. The word that is tantamount would be:
Please follow the link if you are not familiar with MMI. One way to think of it is all the parties’ (employer, employee, claims adjuster, physician, and others) goal is and always will be a return to gainful employment.
If the injured worker does not receive or refuses a vaccination, does the treating physician say that he/she is at MMI?
That would be a big question that the persons in the above paratheses very likely will have to handle as the pandemic eases and normal return to work occurs in late 2021.
Could the injured worker’s refusal of a vaccine that keeps them out of work cause them to lose their weekly benefits? The disputes would sharply spike.
Workers Comp COVID-19 Vaccinations and The Presumption Legislation
Research into this subject today points to none of the State’s multiple-presumption Senate/Assembly Bills and laws considered this conundrum.
Letting the Workers’ Comp Judges and Appeals Courts settle this matter may not be the best avenue. Watch for the states to address this issue soon (or maybe not). Illinois has broken the ice in an indirect manner.