Posted On: May 7, 2009 by Steven J. Malman

Illinois Workers’ Compensation: Workers Sick with Swine Flu

As of May 4, 2009, the Centers for Disease Control is reporting 279 confirmed cases of Swine Flu (H1N1 flu) in the United States. While this is a concern for everyone, it is especially a concern for workers who have to go to their jobs and may catch the virus from someone at their office, factory, or another type of work facility.

If you get the swine flu while you were doing your job, you may be entitled to Illinois workers’ compensation benefits. The challenge may be, however, proving that you contracted the contagious virus while you were doing your job (meaning you have a work-related illness) and not from an incident that is not work-related.

It doesn’t help that many work-related tasks put workers in situations that could put them at risk of getting the swine flu from others. For example:

• Working around other people.
• Eating out.
• Travel.
• Interacting with business associates that come from other parts of the country or the world.

Unfortunately, many Illinois workers can’t afford to stay home to avoid getting sick or to protect others from contracting their viruses. About 57 million US workers don’t get paid for sick days. Not only does staying at home mean that they don’t get paid but it could also result in the loss of their jobs.

It doesn’t help that the workers that likely don’t have sick leave are workers in the child care industry, food services industry, and hotel industry—lines of work that involve workers coming into regular contact with other people or food items. According to a 2008 study on sick leave, 68% of workers that don’t have paid sick leave have showed up to work with a contagious illness.

Steps employers can take to minimize the risk that workers will contract a virus while on the job:

• Make sure the work area is environmentally clean.
• Remind employees to regularly wash their hands.
• Have antibacterial hand cleansing lotions available.
• Encourage workers that exhibit flu-like symptoms to get medical attention and not return to work until they are certain they don’t have the swine flu.

Swine Flu Meets Workers Comp, Workers' Comp Insider, April 27, 2009

H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu) and its impact on Workers Compensation,

Swine Flu or Not, Many Workers Can't Stay Home,, May 4, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission

Illinois Workers' Compensation Act (PDF)

H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu), CDC

The best way to make sure that you receive all of the workers’ compensation benefits you are owed is to contact our Illinois workers’ compensation law firm to discuss your case.

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