Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear has issued Executive Order 2020-277 requiring insurers and other obligors of workers’ compensation insurance in Kentucky to commence payment of temporary total disability benefits, regardless of eventual denial of a claim, to employees in a variety of high risk occupations who are occupationally exposed to COVID-19. In pertinent part, the executive order states:
- An employee removed from work by a physician due to occupational exposure to COVID-19 shall be entitled to temporary total disability payments pursuant to KRS 342.730(1)(a) during the period of removal even if the employer ultimately denies liability for the claim. In order for the exposure to be “occupational,” there must be a causal connection between the conditions under which the work is performed and COVID-19, and which can be seen to have followed as a natural incident to the work as a result of the exposure occasioned by the nature of the employment;
- The limitations in KRS 342.040( 1) are suspended and temporary total disability payments made pursuant to this Order shall be payable from the first day the employee is removed from work;
- For the purpose of this Order, it shall be presumed that removal of the following workers from work by a physician is due to occupational exposure to COVID-19: employees of a healthcare entity; first responders (law enforcement, emergency medical services, fire departments); corrections officers; military; activated National Guard; domestic violence shelter workers; child advocacy workers; rape crisis center staff; Department for Community Based Services workers; grocery workers; postal service workers; and child care workers permitted by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to provide child care in a limited duration center during the State of Emergency.
- This Order shall apply to all insurance carriers writing policies providing workers’ compensation insurance coverage in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, self-insured groups, and any employer carrying its own risk and authorized to self-insure in the Commonwealth of Kentucky; and
- Payment by the employer or its payment obliger (sic) pursuant to this Order does not waive the employer’s right to contest its liability for the claim or other benefits to be provided.