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Frequently asked questions about compensation for Covid-19 as an occupational disease

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During the Covid-19 pandemic, a number of questions with unclear answers emerged. Some of them dealt with the issue of compensation for Covid-19 as an occupational disease. However, the situation, which had been unclear for a long time, has become clearer over time and you can find below a short summary of answers to the most common questions related to the above-mentioned issues. 

When can Covid-19 be classified as an occupational disease?

The Covid-19 disease can be classified as an occupational disease if the following conditions stated in the List of Occupational Diseases, see Government Decree No. 290/1995 Coll., are met. Specifically, this is the so-called hygiene condition, where it is necessary that the work in question is work, during which transmission of infection can occur. The second is a clinical condition where the course of Covid-19 disease must be associated with its typical symptoms and confirmed by appropriate laboratory findings. Thus, in the case of an asymptomatic course of the disease, the clinical condition for the recognition of an occupational disease is not fulfilled.

Who can claim compensation for Covid-19 as an occupational disease?

In general, any employee who meets the above clinical and hygienic conditions can request an assessment of Covid-19 as an occupational disease. The assessment process itself is usually initiated by the treating physician, who requests the assessment. However, the employee or the employer can also request an assessment. The recognition of Covid-19 as an occupational disease is then solely the responsibility of the locally competent provider of occupational health services in the field of occupational medicine with a special permit from the Ministry of Health of the Czech Republic.

What professions are typically entitled to compensation?

The fulfilment of the required conditions for the recognition of the right to compensation can be assumed in particular for health or social service workers, firefighters, police officers and also, for example, for teaching staff. On the other hand, for other occupations, such as clerical positions or work in manufacturing plants, the likelihood of spreading the disease is low and therefore compliance with the hygiene condition is unlikely, provided that basic anti-epidemic measures are followed.

What exactly is the employee entitled to?

The employee’s most common right upon recognition of Covid-19 as an occupational disease will be the right to compensation for loss of earnings during the period of incapacity for work, and there may also be a right to reimbursement of reasonable costs associated with treatment or compensation for damage in kind. In the event of a more serious course of the illness that leaves permanent consequences, you may also be able to claim pain and suffering compensation or compensation for aggravation of social position. When an employee dies as a result of an occupational disease, the survivors are entitled to compensation for maintenance costs, lump-sum compensation and compensation for material damage.

The amount of compensation always depends on several factors, such as the nature and extent of the damage to the employee’s health, the course and difficulty of the treatment of the disease itself, and the amount of the employee’s earnings.

Who will pay the compensation granted to the employee?

Where Covid-19 is recognised as an occupational disease, it is the employer’s responsibility to compensate the employee concerned accordingly. The good news for employers is that the above claims are covered by insurers under statutory employers’ liability insurance. However, this may not always be the case, for example in situations, where it is shown that the employer did not comply with some of the mandatory measures. Fortunately for employers, however, non-compliance with measures which, according to court decisions, are invalid due to conflict with the law, cannot be sanctioned in this way and are thus still covered by insurance.

How to apply for recognition of Covid-19 as an occupational disease?

First, the employee must secure the necessary documentation of the illness (i.e. a report from the attending physician and a certificate of a positive test), then the employee must submit a request to the locally competent occupational health service provider with a special authorisation to recognise occupational diseases. Subsequently, an investigation will be carried out at the employer’s premises in cooperation with the health station, where it will be examined in particular under what conditions the employee performed the work, what protective equipment was provided to him, etc.

Once the employee’s claim is accepted, he or she and the employer will determine the amount of the claim and the employer will submit it to the relevant insurance company. Finally, the insurance company will pay compensation directly to the employee, for whom Covid-19 disease has been recognised as an occupational disease.

Author: Veronika Odrobinová, Jessica Vaculíková