First response employees in Michigan receive workers' compensation for COVID-19

In Michigan, first response employees will be entitled to workers’ compensation coverage for a COVID-19 injury based upon new Emergency Rules. First response employees in Michigan include individuals working in healthcare facilities, health care organizations, industrial medicine clinics, practitioners, anyone considered a first response employee under the workers’ compensation disability act, state police officers or officers of the motor carrier enforcement division of the state police. Clearly, the class of “first response employee(s)” is very broadly defined. If you are not sure whether an employee is delineated as a “first response employee,” please contact your workers’ compensation specialist at McDonald Hopkins.

First response employees are considered to have suffered a personal injury that arises out of and in the course of their employment if they meet any of the following criteria:

  • They are quarantined at the direction of the employer due to confirmed or suspected COVID-19 exposure.
  • They receive a COVID-19 diagnosis from a physician.
  • They receive a presumptive positive COVID-19 test.
  • They receive a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis.

These new rules completely relieve first response employees from proving that they contracted COVID-19 in the course of their employment, or that the contraction of COVID-19 arose out of their employment creating unanticipated liability on a small class of employers and their insurers. The rules create an absolute presumption of compensability. The employer is not given the opportunity to rebut this presumption creating a “strict liability” standard for the employer.

Most importantly, a denial of a claim under the above rules presumptively creates non-compliance with the workers’ compensation disability act. Penalties for non-compliance include revocation of the licensure of an insurer or of an employer’s status as a self-insured employer.

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