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New workers’ comp rule slammed by business groups

Monday, Apr 13, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission website

The rapid spread of COVID-19 and uncertainty created within regulated industry has necessitated the modification of evidentiary rules regarding practice before the Commission to ensure first responders and front line workers, who are most susceptible to exposure to COVID-19, are afforded the full protections of the Workers’ Compensation Act in the event they are exposed to or contract the virus.

In other words, if you contract COVID-19 and you’re one of the covered workers, you’re automatically assumed to qualify for workers’ comp.

* The emergency rule is really broad

In any proceeding before the Commission where the petitioner is a COVID-19 First Responder or Front-Line Worker as defined in Section (a)(2),if the petitioner’s injury or period of incapacity resulted from exposure to the COVID-19 virus during a COVID-19-related state of emergency, the exposure will be rebuttably presumed to have arisen out of and in the course of the petitioner’s COVID-19First Responder or Front-Line Worker employment and, further, will be rebuttably presumed to be causally connected to the hazards or exposures of the petitioner’sCOVID-19First Responder or Front-Line Worker employment.

The term “COVID-19 First Responder or Front-Line Worker” means any individuals employed as police, fire personnel, emergency medical technicians,or paramedics and all individuals employed and considered as first responders, health care providers engaged in patient care, correction officers, and the crucial personnel identified under the following headings in Section 1 Part 12 of Executive Order 2020-10 dated March 20, 2020: “Stores that sell groceries and medicine”; “Food, beverage, and cannabis production and agriculture”;“Organizations that provide charitable and social services”; “Gas stations and businesses needed for transportation”; “Financial institutions”;“Hardware and supplies stores”; “Critical trades”; “Mail, post, shipping, logistics, delivery, and pick-up services”; “Educational institutions”;“Laundry services”;“Restaurants for consumption off-premises”; “Supplies to work from home”; “Supplies for Essential Businesses and Operations”; “Transportation”; “Home-based care and services”; “Residential facilities and shelters”; “Professional services”; “Day care centers for employees exempted by [Executive Order 2020-10]”; “Manufacture, distribution, and supply chain for critical products and industries”; “Critical labor union functions”; “Hotels and motels”; and “Funeral services”


Members of the news media are not included even though that’s becoming an issue.

* Press release…

The Illinois employer community has released the following statement regarding an emergency rule adopted Monday by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, which creates an automatic presumption that any essential worker diagnosed with COVID-19 contracted the illness at the workplace, even if they are working remotely or currently not on the job. The following statement should be attributed to the business groups listed below:

“Manufacturers, retailers, grocers, pharmacies, food banks, convenience stores and countless essential businesses across Illinois are doing all they can to protect workers while also meeting unprecedented demand for food, medical supplies, protective equipment and other important services needed during this pandemic. At the same time, many industries are suffering from unprecedented losses and closures including the hotel, hospitality and tourism industry. Yet, this commission chose to suddenly impose a drastic policy change that will significantly increase costs and require employers to pay for medical expenses and salary benefits if an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19 without proof the illness was contracted at the workplace. Many of these industries are waiting for relief from the federal and state government in an attempt to make payroll and retain workers, but will now be on the hook for additional costs if they’re lucky enough to re-open when the governor’s Stay at Home order is lifted. At a time when the state is discussing how to provide relief for employers trying to maintain jobs, this move runs contrary in every way.”

It should be noted this so-called “emergency rule” was adopted with less than 24 hours’ notice and sets a disturbing precedent because it may violate the Illinois Open Meetings Act while making substantive rule changes outside of the legislative process. Further, the Governor has been providing daily updates on COVID-19 yet this issue has never been discussed as an emergency.

    Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois
    Chemical Industry Council of Illinois
    Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce
    Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association
    Illinois Manufacturers’ Association
    Illinois Petroleum Marketers Association/Illinois Association of Convenience Stores
    Illinois Retail Merchants Association
    National Federation of Independent Business
    Valley Industrial Association

I’m told the governor will address this topic at his press conference today. Stay tuned.


  1. - the Patriot - Monday, Apr 13, 20 @ 3:00 pm:

    Basically you are talking about a few weeks of pay that most employers were already agreeing to pay or have to pay anyway.

    The Commission is shut down so you can’t have a hearing and under current law this would not qualify for a hearing in those cases where you are off work 2-4 weeks and go back to work.

    Keep in mind this is an unusual disease as part of the treatment is tracking where you were exposed. Most of this will sort itself out.

    I am 100% against how this was done, but the State may also be trying to head off the waive of lawsuits that was about to hit the court system by declaring these are work comp cases.

  2. - @misterjayem - Monday, Apr 13, 20 @ 3:02 pm:

    “Manufacturers, retailers, grocers, pharmacies, food banks, convenience stores and countless essential businesses across Illinois are doing all they can to protect workers”

    And that should be the floor, not the ceiling.

    – MrJM

  3. - Bruce (no not him) - Monday, Apr 13, 20 @ 3:08 pm:

    I think it will be impossible to definitively prove where and when anyone contracts Covid-19. Making the assumption that it happened at work, is a reasonable place to work from. Otherwise, there will be never ending lawsuits from both sides. I think the standard workmen’s comp response is to deny it happened, and let it sort out in court. but the magnitude of this pandemic makes that unrealistic.

  4. - Bigtwich - Monday, Apr 13, 20 @ 3:22 pm:

    ==doing all they can to protect workers==

    I guess they mean doing all they can that does not cost anything.

  5. - Huh? - Monday, Apr 13, 20 @ 3:47 pm:

    I’m glad they did this. My daughter is a stock person at a grocery store. One of the harassed, over looked, and hard working people trying to keep products on the shelf. Often without protection from the virus. Her store finally provided masks to the staff last week, with mixed messages from supervisors as to whether they had to wear them.

    While I am able to work from home, my daughter has to go out every day and risk exposure to the potentially deadly disease.

    I’m glad this emergency ruling was enacted. It helps my daughter.

  6. - Candy Dogood - Monday, Apr 13, 20 @ 3:56 pm:

    These business groups really ought to start lobbying for single payer.

  7. - Henry - Monday, Apr 13, 20 @ 4:07 pm:

    As to costs, remember that in case of death a single workers’ compensation benefits might include medical treatment (uncapped) plus nearly $1.9 million (Max rate of $1,440.60 x 52 weeks x 25 years)

  8. - StatusQuote - Monday, Apr 13, 20 @ 4:17 pm:

    Henry - Monday, Apr 13, 20 @ 4:07 pm:
    ==As to costs, remember that in case of death a single workers’ compensation benefits might include medical treatment (uncapped) plus nearly $1.9 million (Max rate of $1,440.60 x 52 weeks x 25 years)==

    What are their profits gained from operating a business capped at? If a worker is killed while earning profit for a business, what would you set the fair market value of that worker’s life at? Under $1.9M, I presume?

  9. - Ferris Bueller - Monday, Apr 13, 20 @ 8:40 pm:

    I know, “forgive the transcription typos” but the punctuation outside of the quotes wounds my soul :p

  10. - dave - Tuesday, Apr 14, 20 @ 12:43 pm:

    so, the business community wants front line workers to remain at their posts, but if they get sick, “blank off?”

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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