The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission conducted an emergency public hearing by telephone yesterday afternoon to discuss further amendments to the Rules Governing Practice, specifically Commission Rule 9030.70, which they had amended on an emergency basis 2 days prior.
The result of the revised emergency rule is that any covered Illinois employer, private, public for-profit or non-profit, whose worker is exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 now has the burden shifted upon it to prove that the resultant COVID-19 injury, disease, or incapacity did not occur at the workplace.
The amendment, available here, reads as follows in the relevant part:
- In any proceeding before the Commission in which the petitioner is a COVID-19 First Responder or Front-Line Worker as defined in Section (a)(2), if the petitioner’s injury, occupational disease, or period of incapacity resulted from exposure to the COVID-19 virus during the Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamation 2020-38 and any subsequent COVID-19 disaster proclamations, the exposure will be rebuttably presumed to have arisen out of and in the course of the petitioner’s COVID-19 First Responder or Front-Line Worker employment and, further, will be rebuttably presumed to be causally connected to the hazards or exposures of the petitioner’s COVID-19 First Responder or Front-Line Worker employment. 2) The term “COVID-19 First Responder or Front-Line Worker” means 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, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 of Executive Order 2020-10 dated March 20, 2020.
This amended rule makes no significant change to the April 13, 2020 amendments and will remain in effect until the Governor’s Order is lifted. Today’s changes expand the application of the rule to additional entities not covered by Monday’s version of the rule. The changes, in addition to those entities covered in Section 1 Part 12 of the Governor’s Executive Order 2020-10, adds parts 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11. These new parts include:
7. Healthcare and Public Health Operations;
8. Human Services Operation;
9. Essential Infrastructure
10. Essential Government Functions; and
11. Businesses Covered by this Executive Order: “any for-profit, non-profit, or educational entities, regardless of the nature of the service, the function it performs, or its corporate or entity structure.”
12. Essential Businesses and Operations: “Healthcare and Public Health Operations, Human Services Operations, Essential Governmental Functions, and Essential Infrastructure…”
The IWCC’s telephonic hearing was attended by numerous representatives from Illinois employers, including the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and members of the Respondent bar. Although several objections were raised as to the IWCC’s actions in issuing these amendments, the concerns were not substantively addressed.