On Monday, we reported the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission’s (IWCC) Emergency Rule that expanded eligibility requirements for workers’ compensation benefits. On April 16, 2020, however, the IWCC, approved changes to the Emergency Rule effective immediately. The Amendments:

  • Confirm the Emergency Rule will last 150 days and will not expire prior to this period.

  • Describe the need for the Emergency Rule. The Notice states: “[d]ue to the unprecedented and extreme exigencies created by the nature and timeline of the spread of COVID 19, going through the normal proposed rulemaking process…would create the potential for causing irreparable and irreversible harm to the public interest, public safety, and public welfare.”
  • Justify the “rebuttable presumption” standard. The IWCC cautioned that the rule “is written to be narrowly tailored” and “does not guarantee or assure an award of benefits…but, instead, creates a reasonable rebuttable presumption that a first responder or front-line worker’s exposure to the virus is connected to their employment.”
  • Expand the category of covered employees. The original Emergency Rule applied to personnel identified in Section 1 Part 12 of Governor Pritzker’s March 20, 2020 Executive Order 2020-10. The Amendments expand the Emergency Rule’s application and now cover the following additional “front-line workers” identified in the Executive Order:
    • Healthcare and Public Health Operations, including but not limited to, hospitals; dental offices; pharmacies; public health entities; biotechnology companies; organizations collecting blood, platelets, and plasma; licensed medical cannabis dispensaries; reproductive health care providers; eye care centers; mental health and substance use providers (Section 1, Part 7);
    • Human Services Operations, including but not limited to, long-term care facilities; entities licensed pursuant to the Child Care Act (except for day care centers and homes, and group day care homes); residential settings and shelters for adults, seniors, children, and/or people with developmental or intellectual disabilities, substance use disorders, and/or mental illness; field offices that provide and help to determine eligibility for basic needs; adoption agencies; and other businesses that provide food, shelter, social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantage individuals and other needy individuals (Section 1, Part 8);
    • Essential Infrastructure, including but not limited to, food production, distribution and sale; construction; building management and maintenance; airport operations; operation and maintenance of utilities; public transportation; cybersecurity operations; and telecommunications systems (Section 1, Part 9); and
    • Essential Government Functions, including but not limited to, first responders; emergency management personnel; court personnel; law enforcement; child protection and welfare personnel; housing and shelter personnel; and military (Section 1, Part 10).
  • Identify businesses covered by the Emergency Rule. The Amendments apply to the same businesses covered by the Executive Order (Section 1, Part 11): “any for-profit, non-profit, or educational entities, regardless of the nature of the service, the function it performs, or its corporate or entity structure.”
  • Confirm the new burden of proof for workers’ compensation claims (at least for the next 150 days). Any Illinois employer (whether private, public for-profit or non-profit) whose employee is exposed to or contracts COVID-19, and files a workers’ compensation claim, must demonstrate that the COVID-19 injury, disease, or incapacity was not causally connected to the employee’s employment.

For more, reach out to your Baker McKenzie employment lawyer.