Good Evening Everyone,
So I was a little behind the curve on this one as my focus, for better or worse, has been on federal issues lately, but the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission issued an emergency rule yesterday that makes a significant change to workers’ compensation benefits. In essence, the new rule states any employee of an “essential business” as defined in Governor Pritzker’s Executive Order (which includes construction) will likely be able to get workers’ compensation benefits if they are diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus. This new rule will make it difficult for employers to defend claims and prove where exactly a worker was infected with the virus. The emergency rule can be read in its entirety by clicking this link:
The government has given itself great latitude to adopt “emergency” rule changes and calling your local state Representative will not stop this change temporarily. This law was intended to cover First Responders in direct contact with possible coronavirus patients. We have no dispute with those in the “front lines” against this pandemic. However, Construction was deemed an “essential” business in Sections 9 and 12h of Governor Pritzker’s Executive Order 10-2020 issued on March 20, 2020, and therefore this law affects all workers engaged in construction. This emergency rule adopted by the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission will be effective for 150 days beginning today, April 16th. The government has given itself great latitude to adopt “emergency” rule changes and calling your local state representative will not stop this change temporarily. Businesses groups have publicly stated the approval of this emergency rule is illegal. Their arguments are based on this emergency rule violates state statute since an agency cannot make substantive policy changes in the rule-making process, and this change is an overreach of the Commission.
We are partnering with other trade associations who represent employers and the business community in opposing this rule change. Most likely, a court challenge will be mounted soon.
So far there is no sign of Indiana adopting a similar measure, we will certainly keep an eye out for it and additionally argue forcibly against it should it come up.
In other news, NECA National has issued a 4th Q&A for the FFCRA found here.
The new information addresses clarifications on who the EFMLEA applies to found on question 13, clarification on who is covered under the EPSLA found in question 21, a definitive measure on applying coverage of the FFCRA to people under a SAH order (which doesn’t cover us as an exempt industry) found on question 22, how existing paid leave/vacation provisions interact with the EPSLA found in questions 27 and 41, how to document requests for FFCRA found on question 42, and finally some questionable guidance on benefits under the FFCRA on question 55.
We’ve also posted a link to the information on NECA’s most recent legal guidance webinar here.
That’s it for tonight. As always please stay safe and call if you have any questions.