Division of Federal Employees' Compensation (DFEC)
Federal employees claiming an injury due to contact with the flu virus must be in the performance of duty within the meaning of the Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA) to be covered. These employees have the same burden to establish the basic requirements of coverage as other claimants and must submit medical evidence in support of an identifiable injury in the course of their federal employment and any related period of disability. See 20 C.F.R. § 10.115. The employer should accompany any such claim with a statement fully explaining the exposure and its relation to employment. If the agency provided prophylactic treatment to its employees, any reaction to such treatment would be covered.
Workers' compensation coverage is only provided to individuals with an established work injury. Exposure to the flu virus alone does not give rise to compensability. If an employee loses wages for absence from work as solely a preventive measure, compensation is not payable under the FECA. Nor is fear of future injury covered. The expected front line cases would be medical personnel with documented exposure, law enforcement personnel with direct contact with an infected person or any federal employee whose job duties require them to work directly with the public in the expanding area where the infection has spread. In the event of a pandemic situation where only certain essential personnel are required to come to work, it is conceivable that an employee's circumstances could be considered a special mission, thus bringing them under the coverage of the Act during their commute to and from the office. However, this would definitely be on a case by case basis. The burden would still be on the claimant (with assistance from their employing agency (EA)) to provide evidence that their EA had designated their position as essential and that the employee was required to commute to the office during a time when government offices were closed as a result of “social distancing” in their area.
Employing agencies may contact OWCP DFEC's Branch of Technical Assistance for guidance relating to specific claims or coverage issues.