(Reuters) – Virginia has passed a law that makes it easier for certain healthcare professionals who become ill with COVID-19 to collect medical expenses or lost wages.
But there is a catch: The law excludes healthcare professionals who are offered a vaccine at work and refuses it.
The bill, retroactive to March 12, 2020, was signed into law by Governor Ralph Northam late Wednesday, according to an assistant to Chris Hurst, a member of the state House. who drafted the legislation.
The new law presupposes that death or disability from COVID-19 for healthcare professionals who have had contact with a known COVID-19-positive patient is an occupational risk, which enables them to collect benefits for workers.
The bill potentially allows hundreds of workers to claim benefits they were previously denied due to the difficulty of proving where a worker was infected with COVID-1
However, if the employer offered a vaccine and an employee's reimbursement, the assumption does not apply. The bill contains an exception for people with a medical condition who expose them to a vaccine.
Almost a third of Americans have received at least one shot so far.
Similar bills have been introduced in Illinois, Indiana. and Maryland as states are testing ways to encourage vaccines without triggering a backlash over the government's mandate.
"It's this cowardly way of trying to carry out a mandate through the back door that you know you probably could not get away with through the body politically explicitly," says Mike Duff, a professor at the University of Wyoming College of Law.
Critic is concerned about linking a benefit to vaccines that have only been approved in an emergency.
Dr. Liz Mumper, a pediatrician in Virginia, said, "When there is a risk to an individual, there must be choices."
In the United States, workers' compensation systems largely protect employers from lawsuits, while allowing workers to collect injury benefits without having to prove fault or negligence. The system was designed for factory accidents, not airborne illnesses.
Only 1 % of health care workers in Virginia have been awarded COVID-19 benefits to workers under the Virginia Nurses Association.
Some legal experts and proponents of the Virginia bill say it is legal for states to offer incentives to take the vaccine and that this will make the workplace safer.
"If you choose not to receive the vaccine, you must take some personal risk," Hurst said in an interview.
Lawyers specializing in employee compensation said the vaccine requirement was similar to safety protocols as strict hats, which must be followed in order for an injured worker to be able to claim benefits.
More news ether on insurance and work compensation on the coronavirus crisis here . Catalog