Workers Affected By Covid-19
Hello IAN Readers and welcome to July. If you are like me, the last few months have gone by in somewhat of a blur and as our State and City slowly starts to reopen and regain some resemblance of normality, I am hoping that this month’s edition finds you all well, safe and healthy, after a particularly trying few months. When I wrote my May article I alerted you all to a new Law that Governor Pritzker had just signed, which created a presumption under the Workers Compensation Act, to grant some protection to front line and essential workers, who found themselves exposed to and subsequently contracting COVD-19.
Since I wrote in May, that law was challenged and successfully blocked. As a result of a case filed by the Illinois Manufacturer’s Association and the Illinois Retail Merchants Association in Sangamon County, a Circuit Court judge blocked the new law, stating that the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission had acted beyond its rulemaking authority in creating this rule change to the Workers Compensation Act. The court determined that the Commission had improperly created “new substantive rights for employees and new liabilities for employers,” which is the province of the Illinois Legislature, not the Commission.
Since then however, much work has been done on both sides of the aisle and I am pleased to tell you that a new Bill was subsequently introduced (HB 2455), which ultimately successfully passed the Senate and the House and was signed into law by Governor Pritzker on June 6, 2019.
The new law is effective immediately with some applicability dates and its main points are summarized below:
•The new law, amends the Workers’ Occupational Diseases Act by adding new Section 1(g).
•It creates a rebuttal presumption that workers who contract COVID-19, did so arising out of and in the course of their employment.
•Covers first-responders; front-line workers; health care workers; and workers for essential businesses, whose employment requires public contact or who work in locations of 15 or more employees. The list of business covered here is extensive and too large for me to detail here, so please reach out if you have questions as to whether your employment or business falls under the definition.
•Allows presumption to be rebutted by evidence that: employee was working from home or was on leave; or employer was engaging in and applying or enforcing safety guidelines; or worker was exposed by an alternate source.
•Applies the presumption to all cases tried after the effective date of law and in which COVID-19 diagnosis was made after March 9, 2020 and before December 31, 2020.
•Prohibits increase of employer’s insurance experience rating due to COVID-19.
•Requires positive test or confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis for the presumption to apply.
•Prohibits presumption from applying when worker was at home.
•Requires a certification by a medical doctor to entitle an exposed worker to benefits for temporary total disability, due to missed time from work.
•An exposed worker can prove his/her exposure, without relying on the presumption.
Needless to say as injury lawyers, we are pleased that such immense work has been done to now make this the law. This law was necessary and fair to protect those members of our community who took on huge risks every day, simply by turning up to go to work.
My colleagues and I are available to discuss the implications of the new changes to the Workers Occupational Disease Act, as it may apply to you or your loved ones. While we hope you are not one of those people affected by COVID-19, please know we are here to guide you through your rights in the event that you have been effected. As always all of our consultations are free and we are regularly now providing both phone and online consultations to adhere to current social distancing guidelines and to keep everyone safe.
Be well, Be safe and God Bless.
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Workers Affected By Covid-19