The workers’ compensation system is designed to protect workers who are injured or sickened in the course of their employment. COVID-19 raises a number of questions for workers who become ill. The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry recently provided answers to questions about a new law concerning the virus. While not all workers are protected by the new law, it does make things easier when it comes to filing for workers’ compensation benefits.

How Does The New Law Help?

The law creates a presumption, for a certain class of workers, that if they get sick with COVID-19 it is a workers’ compensation occupational illness. The presumption means that an employer would have to prove that the worker wasn’t exposed to COVID-19 or that such exposure didn’t cause the employee’s illness in order to avoid paying workers’ compensation benefits. In the case of most occupational illnesses, it is the employee’s responsibility to prove that the illness was caused by his or her employment.

Who Does The New Law Help?

The law only applies to COVID-19 illnesses contracted on or after April 8, 2020. It also only applies to certain occupations. The following jobs are included:

  • Firefighters
  • Licensed peace officers
  • Paramedics
  • EMTs
  • Health care providers, nurses, or assistive employees working in health care, home care or long term care settings and providing direct care to COVID-19 patients or ancillary work in COVID-19 patient units.
  • Nurses, health care workers, correctional officers and security counselors working in state, city or county detention or secure treatment facilities
  • Child care providers serving district-enrolled children of workers covered in emergency Executive Orders 20-02 and 20-19

This law does not cover every worker who is considered essential. It does not cover every worker who might be exposed to COVID-19 in the course of working. Please note that this law does not exclude workers in other jobs from seeking workers’ compensation due to COVID-19. It simply does not extend the same presumption to them. if you get sick with COVID-19 due to your employment, you should still file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Those benefits can be crucial in dealing with your medical bills and lost wages.