COVID-19 to be recognised as an occupational disease
Article published in Voice of the Workers Weekly
While the sanitary crisis in Europe linked to the COVID-19 pandemic has been improving, the epidemiological situation remains serious. This warrants a strengthening of workers’ protection in view of possible future waves of the virus.
In the EU Advisory Committee on Safety and Health at Work (ACSH), Member States, workers, and employers came to an agreement on the need to recognise COVID-19 as an occupational disease in sectors where there is an outbreak in activities with a proven risk of infection.
Some workers, especially those in the health and social care sectors, are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19. While most Member States already recognise COVID-19 as an occupational disease, there is a need to promote such recognition in all Member States, allowing workers to acquire specific rights according to national rules, such as the right to compensation.
The agreement is a significant step toward implementing the EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2021-2027, and in which the Commission announced that by the end of the year, the Commission Recommendation on occupational diseases would be updated to include COVID-19.