District of Columbia Enacts COVID-19 Emergency Legislation Impacting Workers' Compensation.


The District of Columbia Council has enacted emergency legislation which aims to protect workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. While most of the legislation deals with protecting workers from adverse employment actions taken by their employers in various situations regarding the pandemic, the legislation makes notable changes to the workers’ compensation statute. It expires 90 days after February 26, 2021.

The legislation amends the workers’ compensation provisions of the statute in two ways:

  • It amends the definition of “injury” in DC Code §32-1501(12) adding that injury includes “the contracting of COVID-19 (the disease caused by the novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 or any of its recognized mutant variations) in the course of and within the scope of employment.”
  • The legislation also amends DC Code §32-1532 adding a new subsection which provides, “the employer of an employee who has contracted COVID-19…in the course of and within the scope of employment or whose contact with others in the course of and within the scope of employment makes the contracting of COVID-19 probable shall report the injury or probable injury to the Mayor in accordance with subsection (a) of this section.”

This would require employers of employees who contract COVID in the course of and within the scope of their employment to report that information to the Mayor in accordance with the normal reporting provisions already effective under the statute.

Of note, a close reading of this legislative language raises the question, if employer maintains that the contracting of the infection did not arise out of and in the course of the employment, whether there is actually a requirement to report.

The bill received Mayoral approval on February 26, 2021 and has been enacted into law. As emergency legislation, unless further enactment follows, it will expire on May 27, 2021. Temporary legislation, which would be effective for 225 days, is currently under Council review.

A copy of the legislation can be found at: https://lims.dccouncil.us/Legislation/B24-0058.

For any questions regarding this development, please contact us here at Humphreys, McLaughlin & McAleer.