COVID-19: Workers Compensation amended for “essential industry” employees

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The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission has issued an Emergency Rule declaring that any employee in an “essential industry” that contracts COVID-19 will be rebuttably presumed to have contracted the virus at work.

This includes construction workers.

In short, the emergency rule shifts the burden of proof from the employee to the employer, requiring the employer to present evidence that the employee did not contract the virus at work, the union/management Construction Industry Service Corporation (CISCO) says in a statement. “As a result, Illinois has made it easier for a much broader segment of employees to successfully pursue COVID-related worker compensation claims.”

This new law is in effect until Sept. 10.

Under previous rules, most ill workers would have difficulty in proving that they contracted COVID-19 on the job.

“Under the new evidentiary amendment, the law creates a Rebuttable Presumption that a worker’s COVID-19 is, in fact, related to their work.”

To qualify for benefits:

  • Workers must get tested and that the test result must be POSITIVE. –
  • Workers must give notice to his/her employer as soon as possible. The law requires 45 days from the date a worker has reason to know he/she has a work related claim.
  • Workers get a note from their doctor instructing them to quarantine at home and not go to work.

Disability pay is paid at 2/3 of average weekly earnings over the preceding 52 weeks.

Several contractor associations have voiced concerns with this new emergency amendment, CISCO says.

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