Is it Legal for My Employer to Require I Sign a COVID-19 Waiver?
Your employer can require you to sign a COVID-19 waiver, but this does not prevent you from obtaining workers’ compensation benefits in Florida if you become ill and unable to work.
As COVID-19 cases continue to level off throughout Florida, many people who have been laid-off or working from home during the pandemic are being called back to their jobs. Reopening work sites is an encouraging sign, but there are still risks. To protect themselves against liability if an employee contracts COVID-19 on the job, many companies are now requiring workers to sign waivers. While this is within their rights, it does not limit yours in filing a workers’ compensation claim, particularly if your employer failed to take the proper precautions to protect you.
COVID-19 Waivers Increasingly Common Among Employers
Disney is one of many companies that require both employees and their customers to sign COVID-19 waivers, releasing them from any liability. Since CNN reported on the practice last summer, it has become increasingly common, particularly with large numbers of people returning to the workplace.
Many businesses have resumed pre-pandemic operations, requiring workers to be on job sites rather than allowing them to work from home. While the Florida Department of Health shows steady declines in new diagnoses, there are still risks. To limit their own liability, is it legal for an employer to require employees to sign COVID waivers? The answer is yes, but there may be limited benefits and little in way of enforcing the waiver. It can emphasize the importance of taking proper precautions when performing tasks related to your job, but it does not eliminate the employer’s duty to maintain a safe workplace.
You May Still be Entitled to Workers’ Compensation Benefits, Even if You Signed A COVID-19 Waiver
Employers use waivers in a variety of situations as a means of protecting themselves against employee lawsuits or having to pay out benefits in workers’ compensation claims. However, these waivers will not hold up in court if the employer failed to take precautions to ensure safety in the workplace.
Even with a waiver in place, employers are required to take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This includes:
- Adhering to social distancing guidelines;
- Encouraging the use of hand sanitizer and frequent handwashing;
- Not allowing employees to work if they have symptoms of the virus;
- Requiring employees to be vaccinated and conducting routine COVID screenings.
If your employer fails to take these precautions and you become ill, you may be entitled to worker’s compensation benefits in Florida even if you signed a waiver.
Reach Out to Our New Port Richey Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today
As one of the few board-certified workers’ compensation attorneys in Florida, New Port Richey attorney Joseph M. Rooth is uniquely qualified to help workers with COVID-19 get the benefits they deserve. Give us a call to discuss your options or contact the Rooth Law Office online to request a consultation today.