The state of Illinois has signed into law a bill that creates a presumption of coverage for its first responders and front-line workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill, known as HB 2455, does provide for rebuttal by an employer, but extends workers’ compensation coverage far beyond its usual line of covered workers. Illinois becomes one of 12 other states who have enacted similar legislation.
While in situations such as the current pandemic workers’ compensation coverage would have been allowed only for healthcare workers and law enforcement, this new bill extends that coverage to all first responders and frontline workers as well. Those frontline workers are defined as the employees of “essential” businesses. They include, but are not limited to, pharmacies, grocery stores, gas stations, transportation providers, manufacturing facilities, restaurants, home improvement stores, and banks. Basically, any business where employees are required to encounter the general public, or who have more than 15 employees.
Additionally, the bill includes an option for rebuttal to a workers’ compensation claim by an employer. If an employer disputes a claim, the rebuttal must be backed by substantiated evidence such as evidence that the employee was exposed elsewhere, or that the employee was working from home for 14 consecutive days prior to becoming sick. In other words, the employer must be able to prove that the employee was exposed to COVID-19 somewhere other than the workplace.
If you have questions regarding an Illinois workers’ compensation matter, reach out to an experienced attorney who can help determine your best course of action.