Illinois provides rebuttable presumption to front line workers in COVID-19 workers’ compensation claims

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission approved a new emergency rule that would create a “rebuttable presumption” for any employee of an “essential business” diagnosed with COVID-19.  This means that it is likely that employees will obtain workers’ compensation benefits if they are diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus and are working in an essential business. The presumption is rebuttable if an employer can prove that the employee’s exposure to COVID-19 was not in the line of duty. Then the employer can defend or deny the claim.

This emergency rule expands the definition far beyond first responders and health care workers to include front line workers in the following industries: grocery and pharmacy; food, beverage and cannabis production; charitable and social service organizations; gas stations, businesses needed for transportation; financial institutions; hardware and supply stores, critical trades; mail, post, shipping, logistics, delivery and pick- up services; educational institutions, laundry services; restaurants for consumption off-premises; essential business and work-from-home suppliers; home-based care and services; residential facilities and shelters; professional services; day-care centers for children of essential workers; manufacture, distribution  and supply chain for critical products and industries; critical labor union functions; hotels and motels; and funeral services.

The new rule will remain in effect for 150 days after the rule is filed with the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office.