Implementer § 207 — Essential Workers Covid-19 Assistance Program

Home Implementer § 207 — Essential Workers Covid-19 Assistance Program

The bill expands the Essential Workers COVID-19 Assistance Program to cover a broader range of essential employees and extends the deadline to apply for the program’s benefits from July 20, 2022, to December 31, 2022. By law, the program provides benefits for uncompensated leave, out-of-pocket medical expenses, and burial expenses to certain essential employees who could not work between March 10, 2020, and July 20, 2021, due to contracting COVID-19, or symptoms that were later diagnosed as COVID-19.

The bill also changes how the program’s benefits must be determined and administered by generally (1) requiring a claimant’s benefits for uncompensated leave to be reduced by the amount of any employer- provided paid leave the claimant received for the same time; (2) allowing the program to pay a claimant benefits for one type of claim (e.g., uncompensated leave) while a claim for a different type of benefits (e.g., medical expenses) is pending; and (3) requiring the program administrator, once the bill passes, to review any previously denied, or currently pending, claim for assistance from the program and make a new eligibility determination.

Under the bill, a claimant’s disability or unemployment claim must not prevent the program administrator from approving a claim for the program’s current benefits or the bill’s new leave benefits, as long as the current benefits are offset by any disability or unemployment benefits already paid to the claimant for his or her uncompensated leave, including payments made without prejudice. The bill also specifies that it does not require a claimant who has received unemployment benefits to be currently employed with a previous employer in order to qualify for the program’s current benefits or the bill’s new leave benefits.

Essential Employees

Under current law, the “essential employees” covered by the program are those employed in a category that the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, as of February 20, 2021, recommended to receive a COVID-19 vaccination in phase 1a or 1b of the COVID-19 vaccination program. These include health care personnel, firefighters, police officers, corrections officers, food and agricultural workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, public transit workers, education sector workers, and child care workers.

The bill expands the essential employees covered by the program to include those who the CDC recommended for a COVID-19 vaccination in phase 1c of the program. These include, among others, certain employees in the following workforce categories: transportation and logistics, food service, energy, shelter and housing, IT and communication, news media, public safety, public health workers, finance, and legal.

Benefit Offset for Partial Paid Leave


Under current law, the program provides partial wage replacement benefits for a claimant’s uncompensated leave, which does not include any leave for which the claimant received any paid leave through an employer-provided paid leave plan, or under a state or federal law. The bill instead requires that a claimant’s benefit from the program be reduced by any amounts that he or she received through an employer- provided paid leave plan, or under a state or federal law. In effect, this allows a claimant who received a partial paid leave benefit to also receive a correspondingly reduced benefit from the program, instead of being disqualified.

Partial Claims

The program provides eligible claimants with benefits for uncompensated leave, out-of-pocket medical costs, and burial expenses. If the program administrator has asked a claimant for additional information to process a claim, the bill allows the administrator to pay the claimant for the completed parts of his or her claim while the remaining part of the claim is pending (e.g., a claimant may receive payments for uncompensated leave while the claim for medical costs is pending).

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