Co-funded by the European Union

Chile, Colombia, Uruguay: Covid-19 as an occupational disease

  • Legislations in Chile, Colombia and Uruguay aligned to recognised Covid-19 as an occupational disease for the health sector.

In Chile, the Opinion Nº1482-2020 of 5 March 2020 from the Social Security Superintendence gave instruction to recognise workers operating in health care facilities and diagnosed with Covid-19 or “determined as close contacts”, as affected by an occupational disease.

This decision allowed health care workers to access the Insurance for accidents at work and occupational diseases established by Law N. 16.744 and the related services, following a formal notice from the employer.

In Colombia, Decree N. 676 of 19 May 2020 incorporated Covid-19 into the list of “direct” occupational diseases affecting all workers in the health sector, including “administrative personnel, cleaning service, security and support personnel providing services in the different activities of prevention, diagnosis and care of this disease”. This means that “the Occupational Risk Management entities (entidades administradoras de riesgos laborales, ARL), as soon as the diagnosis of Covid-19 is confirmed, must recognize all the assistance and financial benefits derived from the inability to work due to the virus” without having to go through the usual longer procedure of recognition of occupational disease.

There is no increase in the social security contribution bore by employers. However, if the disease is due to employers’ negligence, he/she could be condemned to provide the employee an indemnity.

On 3 April 2020, Uruguayan Congress approved Law N. 19.873, which included Covid-19 in the list of professional diseases for health sector workers having “a direct or indirect link with infected patients” during the health emergency. For the purpose of this definition, workers must not necessarily have a medical profession; all personnel connected with the health care facilities and at risk of contagion, both employees and self-employed workers, are considered health sector workers. The Law established that a Registry of “Covid-19 personnel” must be drafted to keep track of those workers as well as the patients.