Spain – COVID-19 – What happens when workers have to work on site?

Royal Decree-Law 6/2020 of March 10 has been published in the Official State Gazette, which adopts certain urgent measures in the economic field and for the protection of public health.

In the article 5 of RD-law 6/2020 the situation assimilated to an accident at work is considered to be the periods of isolation or contagion of workers as a consequence of the COVID-19 virus.

  1. In order to protect public health, a situation assimilated to an accident at work will be considered, exceptionally, exclusively for the financial benefit of temporary disability of the Social Security system, those periods of isolation or contagion of workers caused by the COVID-19 virus.
  2. In both cases, the duration of this exceptional benefit will be determined by the part of withdrawal for isolation and the corresponding discharge.
  3. The self-employed or third-party worker who is on the date of the causing event registered in any of the Social Security regimes may be entitled to this benefit.
  4. The date of the causal event will be the date on which the isolation or illness of the worker is agreed, without prejudice to the fact that the part of the withdrawal is issued after that date.

Previously, criterion 2/2020 published by the Secretary of State for Social Security, established that workers affected by the application of the protocols established by the Health Authorities could see their situation considered as Temporary Disability derived from common illness. It is true that workers are not strictly affected by an illness or accident, but they must be watched and receive the corresponding health care in order to diagnose their condition and that they are disabled for work, for obvious reasons.

The difference between the consideration of an accident at work or an occupational disease, and a common disease in this situation of isolation and surveillance, is more of an economic and healthcare nature. Nothing changes in terms of diagnosis, but it does change in terms of treatment and economic and healthcare benefits. Regarding treatment, mutual insurance companies for occupational accidents and diseases may now have a derivative in terms of medical treatment for workers. Regarding financial and assistance benefits, work-related accidents and occupational diseases have financial benefits through delegated payment from the first day, unlike the sections established for benefits derived from common illness or non-occupational accidents.

What we can understand is that workers now are better protected at the medical and sanitary care level, especially through the economic compensation of the absences of the workers that are produced by the action protocols of the Health Authorities. The compensation is for companies and workers, through the corresponding delegated payments of benefits. And Temporary Disability cases the process to begin, the doctor must issue the corresponding discharge part, and the subsequent confirmation until the medical discharge. These parts must be delivered to the company within three days from the issuance of the withdrawal.

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