Yesterday we told you about the intent of the governor to issue an Executive Order concerning insurance. It was issued today.
This morning, Gov. Ned Lamont signed Executive Order 7JJJ to create a rebuttable presumption that workers who contracted COVID-19 in the early days of the pandemic contracted it on the job, and that they are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
The order states that any employee who initiates a claim for payment of workers’ compensation benefits—after missing a day or more of work between March 10, 2020, and May 20, 2020 because he or she showed symptoms of, or was diagnosed with COVID-19—contracted it as an occupational disease during his or her employment provided that the following statements are true:
- the employee worked, at the direction of the employer, outside the home during at least one of the 14 days immediately preceding the date of injury, and had not received an offer or directive from said employer to work from home instead of from his or her place of employment;
- if the date of injury was more than 14 days after March 23, 2020, such employee was employed by an employer deemed essential by the Department of Economic and Community Development pursuant to Executive Order 7H;
- the contraction of COVID-19 by the employee was confirmed by a positive laboratory diagnostic test within three weeks of the date of injury or diagnosed and documented within three weeks of the date of injury by a licensed physician, licensed physician’s assistant, or licensed advanced practice registered nurse, based on the employee’s symptoms; and
- a copy of the positive laboratory diagnostic test results or the written diagnosis shall be provided to the employer or insurer.
The employer or insurer can rebut these presumptions if it can demonstrate to a workers’ compensation commissioner, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the individual’s employment did not cause him or her to contract COVID-19.
This isn’t a bad idea, but is Executive Order – a dictate by the governor acting alone and outside of the legislative process – the right way to do it?