The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 makes it easier for federal workers diagnosed with COVID-19 to establish coverage under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act. Section 4016 of the law provides that a federal employee who is diagnosed with COVID-19 and carried out duties that required contact with patients, members of the public, or co-workers, or included a risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus during a covered period of exposure prior to the diagnosis, is deemed to have an injury that is proximately caused by employment. See the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Workers Compensation webpage for more information.
Workers compensation laws and COVID-19 vary by state. Generally, they do not cover routine community-spread illnesses like a cold or the flu because they usually cannot be directly tied to the workplace; however, COVID-19 is a unique illness where jobs that weren’t previously considered hazardous have become dangerous for workers. See the National Conference of State Legislators for information on state actions related to workers compensation and COVID-19.