Essential Employees will now have greater access to Workers Compensation Benefits if they Contract COVID-19 on the Job

Springfield – State Representative Brad Stephens (R-Chicago) joined a bipartisan coalition of state legislators in supporting an agreement on workers compensation and unemployment insurance changes due to the Coronavirus emergency that benefits both employees and employers on the front lines.

“This omnibus plan benefits both employees and employers and was forged through tough bipartisan negotiation,” said Stephens. “It is an example of what we can do in this chamber when we put a good faith effort to get thing done for the people of Illinois.”

Workers compensation benefits will be paid out when essential workers, such as first responders, healthcare worker, and grocery workers, contract the Coronavirus on the job. Workers compensation does not usually cover illness, but this was a necessary provision in the era of COVID-19.

“Additionally, if a police officer or firefighter passes away as a result of COVID-19, that death will automatically be deemed an on-duty death, and they will entitled to full death benefits,” emphasized Stephens. “The surviving family members of first responders will receive death benefits more easily because of this provision.”

The legislation ensures that employers will not be penalized for unemployment benefits issued between March 15 and December 31 that were paid to employees laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses will save on unemployment insurance costs through non-charging due to layoffs. Coronavirus-related unemployment claims will not impact employers’ experience ratings.

The state can now secure more than $2.2 billion in financial relief for Illinois’ Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund through reimbursements and offsets. The Unemployment Insurance portion of the plan will secure federal coverage of first week’s benefits for claimants, and a total of $2.2 billion Benefits for unemployed workers will be extended for an additional 13 weeks for all claims made on or after March 15th.

The legislation passed both houses of the General Assembly with broad bipartisan support and will now head to the Governor’s desk for his signature.