Illinois Lawmakers Pass Legislation For COVID-19 Front-Line Workers, First Responders For Workers’ Compensation Benefits
The Illinois General Assembly passed Illinois House Bill 2455 on May 22, 2020 that lowers the burden of proof for first responders and front-line workers who contract COVID-19 to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
The new legislation assumes that essential workers who contract COVID-19 contracted it on the job if their employment exposed them to the general public or a workplace location with more than 15 people, unless their employer proves otherwise. In order to be considered for workers’ compensation benefits, the employee should obtain confirmation of COVID-19 or COVID-19 antibodies by either a licensed medical professional or a positive laboratory test.
Protections of Illinois House Bill 2455 are only effective from March 9, 2020 through December 31, 2020.
The new law reflects an emergency rule previously passed by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC) on April 13, 2020, as critics of the rule argued it was too costly for business owners and was instituted without the proper legislative process. The IWCC later repealed the rule on April 27, 2020.
Supporters of the law argue that front-line workers potentially exposed to COVID-19 should be guaranteed the protections of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act because they are putting themselves at significant risk for infection or even death. The law is also meant to prevent front-line workers from putting others at risk by having to make the difficult choice between self-isolating at home or going to work to ensure a paycheck.
Front-line workers and first responders include those employed as police and fire personnel, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, health care providers engaged in patient care, and corrections officers.
Essential service employees as defined in Executive Order 2020-10 by Governor Pritzker are also considered front-line workers. These include individuals working at grocery stores and pharmacies, gas stations, financial institutions, hardware and supply stores, hotels, residential facilities, and those working in transportation, shipping and delivery, logistics and manufacturing of essential supplies, as well as in critical trades and labor union functions, among others.
If you or someone you know contracted COVID-19 while working, please contact Anesi Ozmon at 312-372-3822 to discuss your rights.