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Arkansas executive order extends comp to workers with COVID-19

Arkansas capitol

Arkansas workers who believe they contracted COVID-19 on the job may be entitled to workers compensation under an executive order signed Monday by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

The order creates an exception to the state’s workers compensation law that prohibits compensation for “ordinary diseases of life” during the public health emergency to allow workers who contract COVID-19 access to workers compensation.

Workers diagnosed with COVID-19 who believe they contracted it at work and can show a causal connection between their employment and the coronavirus may be entitled to workers comp under the order.

The order will expire when the state of emergency is terminated. 

Gov. Hutchinson also issued executive orders to protect health care providers and businesses from liability related to COVID-19.

Under the health care order, health care workers and providers are classified as emergency workers, entitled to use crisis standards of care to respond to and treat COVID-19 patients, and are immune from civil liability.  However, the immunity does not extend to willful, reckless or intentional misconduct.

The other order shields businesses and their employees from civil liability as the result of customer exposure to COVID-19. Under the order, a business owner who substantially complies with public health directives will have immunity from lawsuits filed by customers unless the business’s actions are seen as willful, reckless or intentional misconduct.

The immunity is effective immediately until the termination of the state of emergency.