Employment injury claims in which COVID-19 plays a crucial role have emerged from the pandemic. Certain important elements are being considered by the courts in order to determine whether a COVID-19 infection could constitute an employment injury within the meaning of the Act respecting industrial accidents and occupational diseases (Act).
What is an employment injury?
The Act respecting industrial accidents and occupational diseases defines the term “employment injury” as an injury or a disease arising out of or in the course of an industrial accident, or an occupational disease. According to the Act, an employment injury related to a COVID-19 infection is considered an industrial accident. The circumstances in which an employee (claimant) contracted COVID-19 is decisive in the recognition of the virus as an employment injury by the Administrative Labour Tribunal (ALT).
COVID-19 as an employment injury: which elements are favorable?
The Administrative Labour Tribunal (ALT) must determine whether the probabilities of the worker contracting COVID-19 in his personal life are lower than the probabilities of contracting the virus at work.
Examples of elements considered by the ALT in the evaluation of probabilities :
- Limited social contacts outside of the workplace
- Adherence to the physical distancing guidelines issued by Quebec’s public health outside of work, according to the public health measures put in place at the time
- Exposure to the virus due to specific occupational risks
Which elements are unfavorable?
Examples of elements considered by the ALT in the evaluation of probabilities:
- Absence of a workplace infection outbreak
- Fewer and less strict social distancing measures issued by Quebec’s public health
- In the context of reduced social distancing measures, repeated social contacts outside of the workplace for an extended period of time
Understanding the complexity of legislation through concrete examples
Ducore Expertise’s medical directors recommend reading the article (available in French only) published online on September 7, 2022 by the Carrefour RH de l’ordre des CRHA, bringing to light concrete examples of recent rendered decisions regarding this matter.
Given the current epidemiological context and the impact of COVID-19 on many workers, this concept may be particularly relevant in the context of medical assessments.
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