COVID-19

Course of Employment in Washington: What Factors are Considered When an Employee is Injured While Working from Home?

As the State of Washington slowly implements its four-phase recovery plan, many employees continue to work remotely from home in various capacities due to the social distancing requirements brought on by COVID-19. As employees continue to work from home, many employers are faced with new claims involving injuries sustained away from the employer’s premises. These unique claims can make it difficult for employers and third-party administrators to assess what constitutes a compensable injury or occupational disease. In Washington, workers acting in the “course of employment” are covered by the Industrial Insurance Act. Generally speaking, acting in the course of employment means the employee is acting at his or her employer’s direction or furthering the employer’s business. This is broad definition… Continue reading

Oregon Health Authority Releases Reopening Guidance for Oregon Employers

On May 7, 2020, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) released a series of sector-specific guidance as well as general guidance to assist employers in making decisions regarding reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sector-specific guidance is available for Outdoor Recreation Organizations, Personal Services Providers, Retail Stores, Shopping Centers and Malls and Restaurants and Bars. “Phase One” of Governor Brown’s Oregon reopening plan may start as early as May 15 for approved counties with few or no COVID-19 cases. In anticipation of reopening, employers are encouraged to review the guidance and begin making plans consistent with these recommendations. Employers should also refer to the guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) when determining the most appropriate actions to… Continue reading

Adjusting to the New Normal – Washington Claims Processing and COVID-19

As the impact of COVID-19 continues to reverberate through Washington, it has created numerous challenges for employers and claims managers who are working hard to process claims properly and as efficiently as possible. Within this ever-evolving situation in mind, this post discusses some of the common issues that have arisen to date and offers suggestions for how to navigate claims processing. Treatment Plans and Time Loss Certification With treating providers cancelling or postponing many non-emergency appointments, it has made it challenging for workers to submit proper time loss certification in a timely manner. To address this issue, Department’s Guidelines suggest workers schedule appointments via video or telephone to document ongoing eligibility for treatment and/or time loss benefits. For claims managers,… Continue reading

Reductions in Hours, Furloughs, and Layoffs During COVID-19

A lot of employers are having hard conversations right now. A part of those conversations inevitably includes employment decisions. Many companies are trying to decide what is best both for their employees and their companies during this uncertain time. The three big options we’ve seen from our clients is a potential reduction in hours due to decreased demand, furloughs, and layoffs. This post will address areas employers should consider when determining the best option for the business and its employees. Employment Agreements Employment agreements are not widely used. However, employers should review any employment agreements entered into with employees to ensure it is not violating any terms of the agreements. Agreement may include notice provisions where employers are required to… Continue reading

Oregon Workers’ Compensation Rule Updates During COVID-19 Crisis

Needless to say, there have been a lot of changes recently, not just in our daily lives, but also in claim processing issues. The WCD has begun discussions to address a variety of issues that have arisen with Workers’ Compensation claims in light of COVID-19. Further, the WCD and WCB have continued forward with new rules. As SBH’s legislative liaison I have included some of the highlights below to help continue to process claims in a timely and proper manner during COVID-19. COVID-19 Potential Proposals I among others are working on identifying potential proposals to address many new issues arising from COVID-19 including: • Effect on claim processing deadlines due to lack of available IME and medical arbiter examiners. •… Continue reading