As known, within the scope of the process that runs against rapidly spreading Coronavirus in our country and the world, many measures have been taken and continue to be taken. Especially in business life, methods like short-time working or working from home etc. are applied, people are allowed to work without going out and in this way it is tried to reduce the possibility of getting infected by the virus. However, methods such as working from home cannot be applicable to some professional groups. In addition, many arrangements have been made to return to the normal life fluency as the effect of the virus decreases. In this context, the issue of whether getting infected by Coronavirus in working life will be counted within the scope of occupational disease or occupational accident comes to the table.
First it should be noted that the occupational disease is defined as “the temporary or permanent disease, physical or mental disability, caused by a reason reiterated due to the quality of the work made by the insured or work of the insured or by the working conditions.” in Article 14 of the Social Security and General Health Insurance Law No. 5510. Occupational diseases occur with the effect of factors in the workplace. It is sought to find a cause-effect relationship between the occurrence of the disease and the occupation of the person. Occupational diseases are among the preventable diseases. It can be prevented for the employee to get occupational disease with the precautions to be taken.
According to Article 13 of the Social Security and General Health Insurance Law, occupational accident is “the incident which occurs; when the insured is at the workplace; due to the work carried out by the employer or due to the work carried out by the insured if he/she is working on behalf of his/her own name and account or for an insured working under an employer, at times when he/she is not carrying out his/her main work due to the reason that he/she is sent on duty to another place out of the workplace or for a nursing female insured under item (a) of paragraph one of Article 4 of this Law, at times allocated for nursing her child as per labour legislation or while insured goes to or comes from the place where the work is carried out, on a vehicle provided by the employer, and which causes, immediate or delayed, physical or mental disability on the insured.” In this context, in order for the incident to be accepted as a work accident, it is sought to occur an accident first. As a result of this accident, it is sought for a damage on the insured and it is sought to find a suitable causal connection between the accident and the damage. It is also sought for the accident to be related to work and to have an objective defect of the employer in the incident. In addition, in the Article 13 of the Law, cases where the work accident is accepted as presumption are regulated.
In accordance with Article 4 of the Occupational Health and Safety Law No. 6331, the Employer is obliged to ensure the occupational health and safety of the employees. In this context, the employer shall, “take the measures necessary for the safety and health protection of workers, including prevention of occupational risks and providing information and training, as well as precision of the necessary organization and means and shall ensure that these measures are adjusted taking the changing circumstances into account and aim to improve existing situations.”
In case that Covid-19 is considered as an occupational accident or occupational disease, the insured will have the opportunity to benefit from the rights granted in accordance with the Article 16 of the Social Insurance and General Health Insurance Law. In other words, if the conditions are met; the insured may receive temporary incapacity payment per day during the period of temporary incapacity to work, in case the disease somehow causes permanent incapacity, the insured will be able to get permanent incapacity payment, payment may be made for the beneficiaries of the insured who passes away due to Coronavirus, payment for funeral may be granted and marriage bonuses for female children who receive payment may be granted.
Regarding the process against Coronavirus; Directorate General of Pension Services of Social Security Institution informed the Central or Provincial Directorates with the circular letter dated 07.05.2020 and numbered 2020/12 as follows:
In the sent letter, it is first stated that the coronavirus is accepted as pandemic worldwide and also affects our country negatively. Then, the definition of the disease in accordance with Article 15 of The Social Security and General Health Insurance Law No. 5510 is stated as follows: “Sicknesses of the insured under items (a) and (b) of paragraph one of Article 4, other than occupational accident or occupational disease and which causes the incapacity to work in the individual are sickness statuses.”
Since the Covid-19 virus is an infectious disease, it is stated that provision should be made for insured who is infected by the pandemic and who applied to the service providers within the scope of the disease.
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