A recent change to British Columbia employment law is making it easier for workers to claim compensation related to a coronavirus infection.
Last August, B.C. added the coronavirus to its list of occupational illnesses, which means employees who contract the disease and make a claim don’t have to prove it occurred at their workplace if they’re job puts them at an increased risk for exposure. It’s currently the only provincial legislation of its kind in Canada.
The most recent decision took place in January, in which the Workers’ Compensation Board of British Columbia decided in favour of a B.C. flight attendant who applied for compensation after becoming infected during a series of international flights last March. Although the infection occurred prior to the legislation’s revision, the board clarified that the amendment applies to decisions made on or after Aug. 20, 2020.
While the board considered data presented by the airline which claimed the risk of transmission on flights was low, it deemed the airline’s report incomplete, stating it only included information collected until October 2020 and pertained to passengers, not flight attendants. The decision also stated there was evidence the worker had exposure to infected passengers on at least one flight as well as to two co-workers who later became ill.
The board also decided in favour of recent claims made by a pharmacy assistant, as well as a mental health-support worker who became infected after their client’s family went on vacation last March.
The airline company didn’t immediately respond to Benefits Canada‘s request for comment.