COVID-19 Added to Work Comp Claims
Bill Ward, HBAI
Business groups in Illinois were thrown a curve ball this week from Governor Pritzker with the announcement that the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission approved emergency rules that adds COVID-19 to the list of occupational diseases covered by Workers’ Compensation Act and the Workers’ Occupational Diseases Act. Even worse, the ruling presumes that workers contracted COVID-19 at work rather than the usual route of requiring workers to prove that they were injured or became ill on the job.
The emergency ruling has a 150-day lifespan and affects all first responders, front-line workers, and employees of essential businesses. As you know, residential construction is an essential business, a designation that allows employers to stay open and operating during the pandemic.
Changes to workers’ compensation law and regulations historically goes through an agreed bill or ruling process whereby stakeholders come to the table and hammer out a deal before it moves forward.
Yes, we appreciate being designated as an essential industry and many thanks have been bestowed upon Governor Pritzker for keeping our builders and associates working. However, businesses (especially home construction) were having a difficult time keeping their doors open before the virus hit Illinois. Now, we can expect Work Comp insurance rates to jump as it will be presumed that workers contracted COVID-19 on the worksite.
Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to get a copy of the Commission ruling.