Employer obligations regarding employee sickness relating to employment
OSHA provides that if an employee gets sick and misses work because of a work place exposure the employer is required to record it. The big issue is tying it to a workplace exposure. Simply because someone gets on a plane and later develops the flu and dies (or even gets sick) does not mean they contacted the disease on the plane or due to the trip. Likewise, the fact that the employee became ill does not mean that the employee was exposed because of the story he or she was covering rather than shopping at the grocery store.
If an employee was able to establish that the traveling or his or her actual job duties was the cause of getting sick, a compensable workers’ compensation claim is possible. However, most workers’ compensation statutes do not require the proof of negligence on the part of the employer but rather the employee need only prove that the injury occurred at work and was proximately caused by their employment. Here the virus would not be an injury but rather would most likely be considered an occupational disease, which would mean it arose out of and was in the course of employment and arises out of or because of conditions peculiar to the work and creates a risk of contracting the disease in a greater degree than the public generally. Getting the virus may be covered under workers’ compensation for a healthcare worker or a first responder but not likely for someone who is traveling on a plane. Any workers’ compensation claims will be evaluated on a case by case basis.
Any claims under insurance policies, such as accidental death or life insurance policies, would be governed under their plans.