As COVID-19 vaccinations become more widely available, school districts across the country are starting to open to in-person teaching with added modifications, like limiting how many students are in each session. Vaccinations are not a guaranteed end to the dangers of the coronavirus, though, so many teachers are wondering what their workers’ compensation coverage will do for them if they get sick. This is a good time to revisit and answer the common question: “Do teachers even get workers’ compensation?”
Yes, practically every teacher in the country should have workers’ compensation. Some states have workers’ comp exclusions for company executives, sole proprietors, and the like, but teachers do not match any of these descriptions. Independent contractors are also usually exempt from workers’ compensation protections, but, again, teachers are employees in nearly every case. If you are a teacher, then you should probably have workers’ compensation, and it should cover you for a range of accidents, injuries, and ailments, including the coronavirus.
Workers’ Comp for Teachers with the Coronavirus
If a teacher comes down with the coronavirus, then workers’ compensation benefits should become available. Many states have passed legislation that allows employees to get workers’ comp benefits when it can be reasonably presumed that the contraction occurred due to the regular duties of their job. A teacher who has to spend hours a day with students – who each see their friends, families, and other students each day – and who is diagnosed with the coronavirus likely has an innately increased risk of exposure than someone working in a less social profession. Workers’ compensation providers often have the option to rebuke a claim, but the burden of proving that exposure to the virus happened outside of work lies on them, not the teacher, in most cases.
Are Commuting Accidents Covered?
Workers’ compensation applies to accidents that happen due to the scope of someone’s employment. However, commuting to work is usually interpreted as a necessary factor of all employment, not something unique to a specific job. As such, teachers who are injured in a car accident on the way to work are probably not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Talking with a local workers’ compensation attorney who knows your state’s laws will add clarity to the situation.
Special Instructors Might Not Be Covered
Although teachers are typically covered by workers’ compensation benefits, special instructors and educators might not be. The question boils down to what is in your employment agreement or work contract.
Instructors who might not be covered by workers’ compensation include:
- In-home private educators
- Special education teachers
- Substitute teachers
Not being covered by workers’ compensation doesn’t automatically mean that is correct, though. Sometimes a teacher who fulfills all the job descriptions of an employee is miscategorized, intentionally or inadvertently, as an independent contractor working as an instructor. In such a case, a workers’ comp attorney can review the details of their work contract and see if they should have been labeled an employee all along, which would give them employee benefits like workers’ compensation.
Do you need help using your workers’ compensation benefits as a teacher in Chicago or Cook County, Illinois? Leonard Law Group can help you make the most of them after you get sick or injured while working. We can also help you fight for your rights to workers’ comp if you have been miscategorized as a non-employee. Contact us now to arrange a free case evaluation.