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Workers who are at least 50 years old have experienced the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic differently than younger employees. Although employees of all ages have faced concerns and difficulties due to the pandemic, older workers are more vulnerable. According to recent studies, more than 18 million employees 50 years old and older are at risk of experiencing some kind of medical, occupational, or financial hardship directly linked to the COVID-19 outbreak.
COVID-19 tends to affect older workers more severely than younger employees. A senior worker is statistically more likely to have serious or life-threatening, symptoms, like respiratory damage, after developing COVID-19.
Another factor that puts older workers at risk is that a higher proportion of workers over 50 years old hold jobs in occupations that require close contact with colleagues and the public. Such occupations include health care and transportation positions, such as a health assistants who works in assisted living facilities, or truck drivers who encounter many different people.
Although acquiring COVID-19 is a serious risk in a traditional office, plant, factory, restaurant, or retail location, other dangers can seriously affect older workers. Older employees are vulnerable to economic hardships.
In addition to being more apt to present severe symptoms of COVID-19, older Americans are being laid off in elevated rates. In many cases, older workers may receive higher salaries, and a company that has lost significant revenue may furlough older workers with large earning rates. This is a form of age discrimination, and companies could face legal penalties, such as paying compensation for lost wages and other damages. However, some companies still try to eliminate older workers to cut costs.
Often, unemployed seniors have difficulties getting jobs. Getting rehired, even with a good resume and work history, can be very challenging for an elderly citizen. Many employers discriminate against older workers because of their high salaries. Also, many companies feel that older workers cannot handle technology at work.
In some cases, older workers are staying home instead of going to work because they fear they will contract COVID-19. Although telecommuting may be an option for some people who are 50 years old and older, many seniors cannot work virtually. Therefore, an older worker may quit their job because they do not want to put themselves at risk.
Older workers can take proactive steps to care for themselves. Workers need to stand up for their rights and work remotely if it is possible. An older employee should feel confident in asking their employer to make fair and reasonable accommodations, such as allowing telework. Since the upsurge of COVID-19 cases, many corporations have become more flexible about accommodations.
Senior workers should continue to be mindful about their health. Even if they are facing unemployment, they should receive medical treatment if they need to. An older employee who believes that they were exposed to COVID-19 may wish to get a free test at a nearby location. Early diagnosis is critical when treating COVID-19, and it can reduce the transmission rate of the virus as well.
Companies can help elderly employees avoid contracting COVID-18 by providing safe workplaces. Additionally, an employer should try to accommodate older workers. For instance, employers should be openminded to transforming job positions so that employees can work from home.
Employers can also provide personal protective equipment (PPE), such as face masks, gloves, hand sanitizers, wipes, and shields to reduce the spread of any bacteria or viruses. A company should also train workers on how to reduce the risk of acquiring COVID-19.
What happens if an older worker develops COVID-19? Although Workers’ Compensation covers some occupational illnesses, COVID-19 may not be considered a work-related illness in Delaware. Many lawyers and employee advocates are motioning to make COVID-19 covered by Workers’ Compensation benefits.
Since laws are evolving because of the pandemic, it is important that a sick worker still speaks to a lawyer about their options. A respected lawyer will be able to evaluate a worker’s case and determine the best course of action.
If you contracted COVID-19 at work, you should speak to a lawyer about your options. Our Wilmington Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow protect the rights of injured and sick senior workers. Call us at 302-427-9500 or complete our online form for a free consultation today. Located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, we serve clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Hillsborough, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.
Statement Regarding Coronavirus Disease ("Covid-19"):
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The situation regarding the COVID-19 virus changes daily. During this uncertain time, we can assure you that the team at Rhoades & Morrow continues to focus on helping our current clients as well as assisting new clients.
We know that legal questions still arise, and we are here to answer your questions and provide the trusted guidance that you have come to expect from us over the years. To ensure the health and safety of our staff and our clients, we are conducting virtual consultations via Zoom and by telephone. We also have the ability to exchange documents via secure e-mail.
We look forward to hearing from you. Stay safe and healthy.