Casualties due to COVID-19: employers must trust their employees

Despite the risks of abuse, insurers and employers have no choice at the moment but to rely on the good faith of workers who claim to be sick with COVID-19.

Since mid-December, thousands of people have been infected with the COVID-19 virus due to the high contagiousness of the Omicron variant. Companies from all walks of life see their employees fall in battle. And who says infected says sick leave.

Normally, workers who call in sick must provide their employer with proof of their inability to work, such as a doctor’s note. But in times of COVID-19, the rules have changed.

“Currently, employers do not require any testing from an employee who claims to have COVID symptoms, says Karl Blackburn, president of the Conseil du patronat du Québec (CPQ). For employers, it is increasingly difficult to demand tests due to the difficulty of getting tested, the scarcity of rapid tests and the substantial increase in cases of contamination in the population. Therefore, they must rely on the good faith of the workers.”

not many options

This situation is not ideal for companies, which are not immune to unjustified absences in a context of labor shortages. That is why the CPQ asks the Minister of Labor, Employment and Social Solidarity, Jean Boulet, to distribute rapid tests to employers, which could validate the infection of employees and at the same time participate in the collection of data on cases of pollution.

Businessmen also want vaccination to be extended to the entire population through “incentive measures”, such as the vaccination passport or compulsory vaccination in the context of a health emergency. “If the government went ahead with such a measure, it would take enormous pressure off businessmen,” says the president of the CPQ.

Pending decisions on these issues, companies have few options to control absenteeism. The Commission for Standards, Equity, Health and Safety at Work (CNEST) makes available to workers and employers assistance sheets for self-declaration and self-assessment. However, these tools are imprecise, according to Karl Blackburn. As for the government, it has established a rapid test self-report platform that will allow people to transmit their rapid test result, whether negative or positive, for statistical purposes.

To avoid jeopardizing company operations or slowing down production lines, for example, some employers decide to send their employees to be tested at private clinics, according to Mr. Blackburn. The same goes for workers who have to travel for business.

In addition, an employer can “exceptionally” request additional justifications from a worker who makes several requests for leave in relation to COVID-19, underlines the president of the CPQ.

Paid vacations?

Given that most people “recover quickly from COVID-19” and that the isolation period for workers who work outside the health network and double vaccinated has been reduced from 10 to 5 days, companies pay “generally ” to his employees during his absence, according to Karl Blackburn.

“However, in the case of longer absences, group insurance and employment insurance may have special rules regarding workers’ compensation,” he said. In your case, the decisions will be made by the insurer.”

No proof required by insurers

The standardized form developed by the personal insurance industry since the pandemic also does not require a doctor’s diagnosis. This is confirmed by email Jérémy Drivet, head of government relations for the Canadian Association of Life and Health Insurance Companies (CLHIA).

“In the past, PCR tests were more widely available and accepted as evidence following a positive diagnosis of COVID-19. Since this type of test is now less accessible to the general population, personal insurers are now accepting rapid test results,” he explains.

But to reduce delays and make it easier to access insurance benefits, “the form does not require the participant to attach a test result or public health email confirming a positive test result,” the report continues. Mr Drivet. The insured must complete the section of the form where he certifies that a test has actually been carried out and that the result of this test is positive. The request for temporary disability will be analyzed according to the symptoms indicated on the form.

However, for a longer period of disability, additional medical evidence may be required.

ACCAP clarifies that the vaccination status of a person with COVID-19 does not affect the insurance coverage they can benefit from.

>> Read also: DNA and insurance: keep your secrets


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