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The COVID-19 pandemic has led to sweeping changes in American households and workplaces.
Children are attending school at home, vacations were canceled, and employees are working remotely in vast numbers. And for people whose jobs rely on frequent travel, all the stay-at-home changes can be very unsettling.
If you are an employee who travels, you may wonder: Is it safe to travel for work during COVID-19?
Is the Travel Essential?
When the CDC released its guidelines for employers to decrease the spread of COVID-19, the group advised limiting all non-essential travel.
While it can be easy in some cases to determine that travel is non-essential (You don’t need to travel across the country to meet with a client when you can conduct the same business via a web conferencing platform, for example), the line isn’t always so clear.
One business may deem that an employee’s travel is absolutely essential to its business functions, while a different company may say that the same type of trip is non-essential.
Where Are You Traveling?
If you’re traveling to a known COVID-19 hot spot, it may be worthwhile to have a discussion with your superiors on delaying or canceling your trip altogether.
And, if you’re coming from a hot spot, it may be worthwhile to take the same approach.
Business travel is more than just the time you spend in the location where you have business; you also have to take a plane or car to get to where you’re going, stay in a hotel, and conduct the actual business of the travel plans. That’s a lot of potential opportunities to come into contact with COVID-19 or, if you are an asymptomatic carrier and don’t know it, to spread COVID-19 to others.
When planning business travel during the pandemic, be sure to follow the guidelines of the area to which you’re traveling.
If you are traveling to a state that requires masks when inside businesses, for example, be sure to follow those guidelines. And, if the area to which you’re traveling recommends no travel except in emergency circumstances, it may be ideal to discuss postponing your trip with your superiors.
Are You or Your Family at Greater Risk?
Although new information comes out nearly every day about COVID-19, medical experts tend to agree that those with certain pre-existing conditions are more susceptible to getting sick or to being hit harder if they do get sick.
If you or someone in your immediate household is at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 or developing serious complications if they do get sick, you may want to discuss with your boss postponing your travel plans.
This may not be an easy conversation to have with your superiors, but it’s an important one to have if you’re worried about your safety or the safety of others in your family.
If You Do Travel
In cases where you do elect to travel, there are several things you can do to keep yourself as safe and healthy as possible while you’re away:
- Whenever possible, travel by car rather than airplane.
- Wear a mask any time you’re indoors where other people may be nearby, or whenever you’ll be within 6 feet of others outdoors.
- Take multiple masks with you, and wash cloth masks daily or change disposable masks frequently.
- Carry hand sanitizer for times when you may not be able to access a sink, and use it often.
- Wipe down all surfaces you come into contact with in airports, public restrooms, restaurants, and hotels with disinfecting wipes before and after you touch them.
- Bring your own snacks and drinks for the plane ride to avoid taking those touched by airline attendants who may not be able to sanitize their hands.
- Use touchless payment methods whenever possible.
- Consider renting a car at your destination instead of relying on public transportation or rideshare services.
- Whenever possible, self-quarantine for several days upon returning home to minimize the chance of spreading COVID-19 if you contracted it while you were away.
If You Get Sick While Traveling for Work
If you are required to travel for work and you contract COVID-19, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses related to your illness.
Notify your employer immediately if you believe you contracted COVID-19 on your trip.
You will follow the same process to file a workers’ compensation claim as you would if you’d broken your leg on the job, or been in a car accident. Your employer’s insurance company will handle management of your case, as well as making sure you are paid the wages you are due during the time you are ill.
A skilled workers’ compensation attorney also can help you ensure that your rights are protected throughout the whole process. They can advocate for you with your employer’s insurance company, giving you the compensation you deserve.
Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Washington, D.C.
Work-related illnesses and injuries don’t have to be as scary as they seem. The skilled team at Lopez Law Firm in Washington, D.C., can get you the compensation you deserve in your case with little hassle to you. Call today for a consultation!