WCC Repeals Work Comp for COVID-19
Bill Ward, Executive Vice President, HBAI
The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC) repealed today an emergency rule it passed two weeks ago placing COVID-19 in the list of diseases that is rebuttably presumed to have risen out of and in the course of employment. The unanimous vote was made via telephone conference call at 10 am on Monday, April 27, 2020. HBAI was part of a large business coalition that opposed the original rule and asked for its repeal.
WCC Chair, Michael Brennan, declared that the court case against administrative rule would be too costly and too time consuming to defend, and only for these reasons, should the WCC repeal the rule.
The business coalition filed a petition for a temporary restraining order (TRO) in Springfield last week that was accepted by Sangamon Circuit Judge John Madonia.
AFL-CIO President, Tim Drea, stated to the commission after the vote that employers of businesses deemed essential were forcing employees to work without providing proper safety precautions.
Mark Denzler, President of the Illinois Manufacturers Association, thanked the WCC for its repeal. Illinois businesses covered $4 billion in worker comp claims in 2019, and the ruling could have raised that number in 2020 to $12 billion.
HBAI favors a COVID-19 rule that covers first-responders and front-line workers. We also are adamant that our members abide by the safety guidelines that protect their employees that have been issued by HBAI and NAHB in previous weeks.
We encourage the WCC to explore a new rule covering first-responders and front-line workers, but that they also embrace an OSHA position that it is impossible to conclude whether a worker contracted COVID-19 in the workplace or somewhere else.
A new rule or even a new bill may be considered on this matter later this year.