Legal Protection For Our First Responders and Front-Line Essential Workers
Today, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission made the unprecedented move of enacting an emergency amendment to the Rules Governing the Practice before the Commission to help protect our first responders and front line workers.
The amendment provides that in any case where a first responder or front-line worker is infected with COVID-19 virus and that exposure occurred during the state of emergency, it will be rebuttably presumed to have arisen out of and in the course of the petitioner’s COVID-19 first responder or front-line worker employment and will be rebuttably presumed to be causally connected to the hazards of their employment.
A first respondent or front-line worker includes all individuals employed as police, fire personnel, emergency medical technicians or paramedics and all individuals employed and considered first responders, health care providers engaged in patient care, and correction officers. It also includes all crucial personnel involved in essential businesses outlined in the Governor’s executive order: “stores that sell groceries and medicine, food, beverage and cannabis production, and agriculture, organizations that provide charitable and social services, gas stations and businesses needed for transportation, financial institutions, hardware and supplies stores, critical trades, mail/post/shipping/logistics/delivery, and pick-up services, educational institutions, laundry services, restaurants for consumption off-premises, supplies to work from home, supplies for essential businesses and operations, transportation, home-based care and services, residential facilities and shelters, professional services, daycare centers for employees exempted by executive order 2020-10, manufacture, distribution and supply chain for critical products and industries, critical labor union functions, hotels and motels, and funeral services.
The bottom line is this – if you are forced to work in a business that is considered essential and therefore exempt from the Governor’s Executive Order 2020-10 and you contract COVID-19, it will be presumed that your exposure happened while at work. Your employer still has the right to try to rebut that presumption or prove with evidence that your exposure did not occur at work. This does not likely apply to essential workers who are working from home unless we can prove that you had to leave your home to obtain “supplies to work from home” and there is a likelihood of exposure during that trip.
If you are still working outside your home during the Shelter-in-place order and you are diagnosed with COVID-19, contact Black & Jones immediately to find out what your rights are. Don’t bear the burden and cost of this virus yourself! Call us at 815-967-9000 for a free consultation!