Illinois law now extends workers’ compensation coverage to include COVID-19 as a work-related condition. Illinois became the fourteenth state to pass a sweeping presumption law aimed at ensuring workers’ compensation protections for all “essential workers.”
Under the new law, the presumption of compensability includes workers in the transportation businesses; however, the Illinois’ law does have some eligibility constraints.
It is estimated that up to ten more states are currently considering similar legislation. There are broad variations in the scope of employees covered from state to state. Several states, including Alaska, Utah and Wisconsin, limit coverage to first responders and health care workers.
Currently, Kentucky extends the workers’ compensation protection to grocery store workers, while Minnesota’s law includes those providing childcare for health care workers and first responders. California currently has the broadest law, extending protection to all employees working outside the home who contract COVID-19 between March 19 and July 5, 2020.
Employers in Illinois are advised that any COVID-19 claims should not impact their workers’ compensation insurance experience rating or modification.
The presumption only applies to workers who are required to interact with the public or work with 15 or more employees at their place of business. While Illinois makes it easier for employees to make a case for workers’ compensation, employers will not necessarily be forced to pay for every claim. Illinois employers can refute the presumption by:
- Demonstrating compliance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines during the 14 days prior to the employee’s diagnosis.
- Establishing that the employee contracted COVID-19 outside the workplace.
- Showing that the employee either worked from home or was off work during the 14 days prior to receiving a diagnosis of COVID-19.
Companies should always refer to their policy, agent/broker, and insurance company for details regarding coverage in their State.