The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission has enacted an emergency rule regarding COVID-19 related coverage. This is in response to the rapid spread of COVID-19 and uncertainty created within regulated industry that has required the modification of rules by 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.
First, where the employee is a “COVID-19 First Responder or Front-Line Worker”, if an employee’s injury or period of incapacity resulted from exposure to the COVID-19 virus, the exposure will be “rebuttably presumed” to have arisen out of and in the course of the employment and, further, will be “rebuttably presumed” to be causally connected to the hazards or exposures of the petitioner’s employment. The default assumption is now that the employee contracted COVID-19 during his/her employment and the employer is financially responsible for the workers’ compensation damages. These assumptions are rebuttable, and an employer may attempt to provide medical evidence to prove that the employee contracted COVID-19 outside the course of employment which may be difficult.
Second, how the Commission will define “COVID-19 First Responder or Front-Line Worker”. The definition is to include first responders along with workers identified as “crucial personnel”. This is expected to significantly expand the compensability of COVID-19 related claims brought by employees in a variety of industries identified as “crucial personnel” in the governor’s executive order including those in:
Important to note this is an emergency rule that is currently in effect for only 150 days. We are committed to following this issue and updating you as new developments emerge.