Effective April 16, 2020, an emergency amendment to Illinois’ workers’ compensation rules will make it easier for workers at essential businesses to obtain workers’ compensation benefits for COVID-19 related injuries. Specifically, the emergency amendment creates a rebuttable presumption that exposure of a “COVID-19 First Responder or Front Line Worker” to the virus arises out of and in the course of, and is causally connected to, their employment.

The emergency amendment broadly covers any individuals employed as police, fire personnel, emergency medical technicians, or paramedics and all individuals employed and considered as first responders, health care providers engaged in patient care, corrections officers, and the crucial personnel identified under Section 1, Parts 7-12 of the Illinois March 20, 2020 stay-at-home executive order. The reference to Parts 7-12 of the stay-at-home order means employees who work for the following types of businesses will be considered “COVID-19 First Responders or Front Line Workers”:

  • Health care and public health operations
  • Human services operations
  • Essential infrastructure
  • Essential governmental functions
  • Stores that sell groceries and medicine
  • Food, beverage, and cannabis production and agriculture
  • Organizations that provide charitable and social services
  • Media
  • Gas stations and 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
  • Businesses that sell, manufacture, or supply supplies needed for people to work from home
  • Businesses that sell, manufacture, or supply other essential businesses or operations with the support or materials necessary to operate
  • Transportation
  • Home-based care and services
  • Residential facilities and shelters
  • Professional services
  • Day care centers granted an emergency license
  • Manufacture, distribution, and supply chain for critical products and industries
  • Critical labor union functions
  • Hotels and motels
  • Funeral services

Illinois businesses should refer to the full text of the Illinois stay-at-home order and consult with legal counsel to determine if they fall within the essential businesses covered by the order, such that their employees may now find it easier to recover workers’ compensation benefits in the event they contract COVID-19.

The emergency amendment is in effect for 150 days, and applies to injuries that occur during the Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamation (currently in effect through April 30, 2020) and any subsequent COVID-19 disaster proclamations.