COVID-19 FAQs | March 25, 2020
First responders are uniquely affected by the COVID-19
crisis. TMPA understands that this is a rapidly changing situation, and we want
to assure each of the 29,000 first responders we represent that we are here for
you, and we are doing everything we can to ensure you have the equipment and
information you need. With this new and evolving situation, our members have been
reaching out to us with questions. This document will highlight several of the
frequently asked questions we are hearing from law enforcement today.
Question: My agency doesn’t have the necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to provide to the officers, what can we do about that?
Answer: This is a nationwide concern, and TMPA is in constant communication with the Governor’s office, and the National Fraternal Order of Police to ensure officers needs are recognized. The United States Government and our Texas State Government are taking measures to ensure more equipment is produced and distributed to essential workers across the nation.
Question: Is COVID-19 considered a work-related disease?
Answer: Some agencies and worker’s comp carries are already working under a “presumption” that if a working law enforcement officer contracts the disease that it happened as part of the job. Others are not. We will continue to work with all of our allies to get all employers and carriers to adopt this presumption and we will keep you posted about our progress.
Question: Will workers comp cover me if I am diagnosed with COVID-19?
Answer: The answer to this question varies by department. Workers Compensation is an insurance policy chosen by the employing entity to cover injuries sustained by the officer while at work. Additionally, some entities are self-insured. You will need to show that your exposure was through work. If you filed the first report of injury AND you are subsequently diagnosed with COVID-19 and the workers compensation company is denying you benefits, contact TMPA so we can have legal experts evaluate your situation and give guidance.
Question: What should I do if I think I’ve been exposed to COVID-19 while on-duty?
Answer: You must complete a First Report of Incident form before the end of your shift. This step is crucial.
Question: What happens to my earned/accrued time if I am ordered to quarantine?
Answer: If you are ordered to quarantine, then the effect on your pay and benefits is determined by your local agency’s policy. If you provide us with a copy of your city/county/district policy or your collective bargaining agreement, we will be happy to review your specific circumstance.
Question: How should an officer enforce a shelter in place order?
Answer: Again, this will vary by agency and jurisdiction. Your agency should consult with your local prosecutors and give you clear directives about when and what
enforcement action should be taken. In the absence of any written guidelines, follow orders
Question: If a state of emergency has been declared in my city/county, am I entitled to hazard or emergency pay?
Answer: The state and federal governments have not mandated agencies to pay emergency or hazard pay, however your agency policy or collective bargaining agreement may include such a provision. It is importantto review the policy or collective bargaining agreement to see if the pay is authorized. If the pay is authorized and you are not receiving it, please contact TMPA and we will work on your behalf to see that the policy is followed by the agency.
The federal government has created additional benefits under FMLA specific to this crisis, BUT they have also allowed local employers to exempt first responders from those additional benefits. If you have questions about how your employer
is handing this, please let us know so we can review the specifics.
Additional information can be found at the Texas Department of Insurance’s website under First
Responder Frequently Asked Questions: https://www.tdi.texas.gov/wc/employee/firstresp.html