Police, EMS, and other local government frontline workers are deemed essential personnel and need to continue to work during the pandemic. But what happens if they contract the virus on the job? WHQR reports on the resources available to them.
The Families First Coronavirus Relief Act went into effect on April 1st and defines benefits for both full and part-time employees. If either public or private employees get sick with COVID-19, the Act allows them to take time off from work while getting most of their regular pay.
Holly Brooks is Human Resources Director for the Town of Carolina Beach:
“For full-time employees, the law allows for 80 hours of paid time off at their regular rate of pay; for part-time employees, it is an average of their part-time earnings, wages over a historical period.”
And while most full-time local government employees receive health insurance that would cover the cost of hospitalization, part-time or seasonal workers do not.
If part-timers don’t have their own health insurance, Heather James, a Human Resources Specialist for the NC League of Municipalities, says there might be another way to pay for medical expenses:
“Occupational disease exposures they go through what’s called the Rutledge Test. [...] And basically what came of that is they said, an employer must prove exposure in this case to COVID-19 at work and that the work placed the employee at an increased risk. So, if you had a municipal lifeguard that thought they had contracted COVID-19 while saving someone, whether it’s an ocean or a pool, they would submit their claim.”
Holly Brooks of Carolina Beach says the Town is ready to file if one of their workers becomes sick in the line of duty:
“We are trying to do everything we can to support our first responders and frontline workers, and not just in public safety, but in all of our Departments.”