Minutes ago, members of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC) voted overwhelmingly (9-0-1) to approve a new emergency rule that would create a rebuttable presumption that the workplace was the cause of a person getting the COVID-19 virus.
In essence, this means that any employee of an “essential business” as defined in the Governor’s Executive Order (including manufacturing, distribution, and supply chain) will likely be able to get workers’ compensation benefits if they are diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus. With this new rule, it will be extremely difficult for employers to defend claims and prove that the worker was infected outside of work.
Under the action, the IWCC is adding
two paragraphs to Rule 930.70
regarding the Rules of Evidence that any first responder or front-line workers as defined in the Governor’s Executive Order will be presumed to have contracted the virus at the workplace.
The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association raised two objections during the teleconference call, primarily:
- The meeting is in violation of the Illinois Open Meetings Act (5 ILCS 120/2) that requires public bodies to give at least 48 hours notice in advance of a meeting. While the Chairman declared this an “emergency” that did not require the statutory notice, the IMA argued that this is not an emergency. The virus has been in Illinois for more than one month and the IMA spoke to the Chairman of the Commission on Friday afternoon at which time he indicated that the Commission had no plan to change the law or rules.
- This change in an evidentiary rule is substantive in nature and needs legislative approval. State agencies cannot make substantive changes through the rulemaking process.
Once filed with the Secretary of State’s Office, this rule will go into effect and remain in place for 150 days.