COVID-19 is causing unprecedented levels of depression and anxiety in employees. Employers beware.
When a worker in a high-risk occupation experiences trauma that leads to psychological suffering, entitlement to benefits is generally automatic. This ‘presumptive coverage’ is appropriate and fair in the context of objectively ‘acute’ trauma, i.e. specific, sudden, and otherwise horrifying experiences traceable to a definite time and place. In other words, for first responders, or others engaged in high-risk employment, a PTSD claim is usually accepted with nary a question asked.
But suppose the definition of ‘trauma’ was stretched to include general anxiety and burnout caused by excessive workload, disagreements with coworkers, or a toxic workplace; would this degree of subjectivity not unleash a torrent of mental health claims with potential to crush employers?
Well, as of Bill 30’s passage, the consequences of such a profound change have graduated from the hypothetical to the concrete. Employers are now legally responsible for the mental health of their workers, complete with a duty to inquire into the state of their well-being. The implications of this expansion of legal duty cannot be overstated.