On January 13, 2021, the Illinois General Assembly passed HB4276, extending the provisions of the original Covid-19 rebuttable presumption statute through June 30, 2021. Governor Pritzker has stated he will sign the bill into law within the week. The bill is designed to provide the same rebuttable presumption of compensability for COVID claims going forward and will also apply retroactively to claims that may have arisen between January 1st and the date of enactment. Further, the bill extends COVID-related protections in the Public Employee Disability Act (PEDA) and other statutes. A link to the bill passed by the legislature can be found here: https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/101/HB/PDF/10100HB4276sam001.pdf.
Back on June 5, 2020, Illinois Governor Pritzker signed into law HB 2455 which created a rebuttable presumption of workers’ compensation coverage for first responders and front-line workers who are exposed to and contract COVID-19. By way of the extension, Illinois continues the burden on the employer and insurer to prove that the infection was not work-related making it easier for those infected workers to file successful claims.
The presumption may be rebutted by evidence presented by the employer, including: evidence that the employee was working from home or on leave for a period of 14 or more consecutive days immediately prior to incapacity resulting from COVID-19; evidence showing that the employer was following current public health guidelines for two weeks prior to when the employee claims they contracted COVID-19; or evidence that the employee was exposed to COVID-19 by an alternate source.
Please feel free to contact any of the attorneys on our team to discuss the implications of the extension of benefits, or any other questions related to the handling of COVID-19 claims. We will continue to provide updated information as it develops.