As we previously reported in this blog post, Ohio lawmakers have proposed multiple bills that would expand Ohio workers’ compensation laws in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, the Ohio House passed an amended version of the previously introduced legislation.
Ohio House Bill 606 establishes a presumption that, if certain employees, including first responders, corrections officers, food processing plant employees and retail food establishment employees contracted COVID-19, they contracted it in the course of and arising out of their employment. Therefore, these select types of employees will have an easier route to establishing a compensable workers’ compensation claim for the contraction of COVID-19. If this bill is signed into law as presently drafted, the changes would be effective immediately.
H.B. 606 will now be introduced into the Ohio Senate for committee evaluation. Further amendments may be introduced in the Senate. We will continue to monitor this and other bills as they move through the legislative process.
Previous efforts to expand workers’ compensation benefits for a select group of employees, such as first responders, have not been fruitful, as opponents argued that such efforts singled out a group of employees, rather than treating all employees similarly, and thus may not be constitutional.
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