Federal Spotlight: ABI Signs on to Letter Opposing COVID-19 Presumption
March 10, 2022
ABI recently joined more than 40 business and industry organizations from across the country and signed a letter opposing the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ COVID-19 Compensation Act of 2021. ABI previously opposed this effort because it is inconsistent with the no-fault workers’ compensation system.
This proposed legislation creates a presumption that an employee covered by the Longshore Act who has COVID-19 does not have to show it was an illness “arising out of and in the course of employment.” Maritime employees would not have to prove they contracted COVID-19 at work. It would force maritime employers to provide workers’ compensation for a COVID-19 illness that may have been contracted outside of the workplace. The proposal has retroactive effect – it applies to maritime employees who had or contract COVID-19 between January 27, 2020 and January 27, 2023.
ABI is against this proposal because this presumption – and the timeline – is unreasonable. COVID-19 is not limited to the workplace and could be contracted in spaces the employer has no relation to. Most notably, the U.S. Supreme Court recently stated that COVID-19 is not an occupational hazard (see National Federation of Independent Business v. OSHA).