As most Floridians are aware as of the date of this blog, the Ron DeSantis, Governor of Florida has issued a “Stay at Home” Order for all of Florida as a result of the global pandemic, COVID-19 (Coronavirus). However, while many individuals have lost their jobs and unemployment is at a historic high, there are still any people who are members of the work force because their jobs are considered “essential.”
Essential employees per the Governor’s executive Order 20-89 are defined, generally as: Healthcare providers, grocery, food banks, and other established engaged in sale of food, food cultivators, businesses that provide food/shelter for homeless, media, gas stations and auto repair, banks, hardware stores, contractors, repair workers, mail and shipping companies, schools (only for online learning), laundry and dry cleaners, restaurants and food preparation, suppliers of essential business needs, airlines and transportation, home-based care for seniors and children, professional services, landscape and pool care, child care centers, telecommunications, architectural services, factories, waste management, and generally businesses that interact with customers through electronic or telephonic means.
Currently, Workers’ Compensation law in the State of Florida, does not extend Workers’ Compensation coverage to all essential workers defined above, however, the State is beginning to take steps in the right direction to extend coverage to some workers.
Jimmy T. Patronis, Jr., Chief Financial Officer for the State of Florida, issued a Directive on March 30, 2020 where he is extending workers’ compensation coverage to all “Frontline State Employees” which includes: law enforcement, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, corrections officers who must be physically present at a state-operated detention facility, State employees working in the healthcare field, child safety investigators whose duties require them to conduct welfare checks on behalf of minors, and Florida National Guard members who are called to active duty for service in the State of Florida.
In addition, on March 27, 2020, the Executive Director of the Florida League of Cities, Jeannie Garner, has issued a statement that they will extend Workers’ Compensation insurance to first responders (law enforcement officer, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians or paramedics) who work for municipalities within the State of Florida. (i.e. if they work for a city in Florida versus work for the State of Florida, they are also covered).
However, the overwhelming majority of “essential” employees who are not employed by public entities are no currently covered. Therefore, the medical staff who work for private hospitals or private security, grocery workers, maintenance and cleaning personnel, construction workers and many other “essential workers” are being exposed to the novel coronavirus and do not have guarantees of coverage through workers’ compensation to pay for their medical treatment while they are ill or to cover their wages. Currently, there is an effort to remedy that situation in the state.
If you fall into one of the covered categories above, Freeman Injury Law can help to ensure your medical care and wages are covered while you recover from the coronavirus. We will also ensure that coverage is provided to the families of loved ones lost by the virus contracted while on the job. However, even if you are not under one of the covered categories above, but you are an “essential employee” who is still having to go into work on a daily basis and contracts the Coronavirus, reach out to us because we will do everything we can to try and obtain coverage for you and we are working hard at Freeman Injury Law to protect all of those who are out there working hard to ensure our safety.
Diana I. Castrillon, Esq.
Freeman Injury Law