The state legislature's Labor and Public Employees Committee held a public hearing March 11 on three costly and sweeping workers' compensation bills.
Connecticut employers will bear the burden if the legislature adopts any of the three proposals, with the National Council on Compensation Insurance estimating costs between $54 million and $378 million.
Each of the proposals create a presumption that an employee who contracts COVID-19 during the period of the public health and civil preparedness emergency will be presumed to have contracted it in the workplace, regardless of where the employee actually contracted it, making COVID-19 an occupational disease and thus a compensable injury.
That presumption is retroactive to March 10, 2020, when Gov. Ned Lamont first declared a public health emergency.
The presumption ends when the Lamont administration lifts the public health emergency.
It should be made clear that the workers' compensation program is designed to make whole those who have been injured at work.
It was not designed to consider injuries sustained outside the workplace.
These proposals allow a person who never stepped foot in their workplace during the pandemic to receive benefits.
This makes little sense and takes away from the basic tenets of Connecticut's workers compensation program.
This is a dangerous precedent and will result in unsustainable costs that undercut the financial viability of the workers’ compensation program.
This program has been in place in Connecticut since 1913. It provides a stable, predictable system with an efficient disposition of claims.
Employers struggling to gain a footing coming out of the pandemic do not need to incur new costs, especially when it appears alternatives exist.