New Law May Make it Easier for Covid-19 Victims to get Workers’ Comp Benefits in Illinois

Posted on July 14, 2020

Under a new House Bill, frontline workers in Illinois who contract COVID-19 while doing their jobs may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

Workers Comp Benefits for COVID-19 Victims

In June, Governor Pritzker signed a House Bill which revised state code to expand unemployment benefits and enhance sick pay and leave for frontline workers who contract COVID-19. The bill also provides death benefits for first responders including police officers and firefighters who are infected with COVID-19 while on duty.

Illinois House Bill 2455 provides workers’ compensation benefits for frontline workers, if they contract COVID-19 in the course of their employment, under certain conditions. Business owners and Labor officials both back the bill to help frontline essential workers receive payments for COVID-19 illness and injuries.

Outlined in the bill is a rebuttable presumption for essential workers and first responders who presumably contracted the COVID-19 virus during statewide shutdowns. According to the bill, employers are allowed to rebut claims under certain conditions:

  • Proof that the workplace was following public health and safety guidelines at the time of virus contraction
  • Health and safety guidelines were in place at least two weeks prior to employee illness
  • Proof that the employee was exposed to the virus by another source or at a different location
  • Proof that the employee contracted the virus outside of the workplace
  • The employee was working from home for at least 14 days prior to his/her injury claim

Under the bill, police officers and firefighters who died after testing positive for COVID-19 are entitled to death benefits. However, contraction of the virus must have occurred between March 9, 2020, (the first day of the governor’s mandated stay-at-home order) and December 31, 2020. Illinois laws stipulate that the date of contraction must be the date of COVID-19 diagnosis or the date that the first responder was unable to work due to COVID-19 symptoms, whichever occurs first.

The new House Bill impacts both business owners and frontline essential workers. Illinois businesses should refer to the full text of the Illinois stay-at-home order to determine if they fall within the essential businesses covered by the order.

Since there is a rebuttable presumption, businesses and employees may have legal questions and concerns about workers’ compensation benefits. A Chicago workers compensation lawyer who is familiar with the conditions of the bill can help with clarity on entitlement for workers’ compensation benefits. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act requires all employers to offer workers’ compensation insurance.