ST. PAUL – The Minnesota House on Tuesday approved legislation ensuring first responders receive their full workers’ compensation benefits and coverage in the event they test positive for COVID-19.
The move addresses concerns that damages suffered from the virus would not be covered by the state’s current no-fault workers’ compensation system, a form of insurance that provides salary replacement and medical benefits for workers injured in the course of their jobs.
“This is an issue that needed to be addressed because our front-line workers need to know workers’ compensation will be there if they and their families need it,” said Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Acton Township. “The added clarity our bill provides will make sure our workers are protected and will prevent a backlog of denials from bogging down our system. This will help our workers focus on the most important thing – stopping this virus.”
The bill represents a compromise agreement made by legislators from all four House and Senate caucuses, and advocates from labor and business groups. The agreement was approved unanimously in an emergency meeting of the Workers Compensation Advisory Council on April 6.
The bill features a sunset date of May 1, 2021. Other main components include:
- Providing for a presumptive workers’ compensation insurance provision for the state’s first responders, health care workers, and others if they test positive for COVID-19.
- Providing a list of first responders that fall under the Presumption of Occupational Disease provision.
- Establishing an effective date for employees who contract COVID-19 on or after the day following final enactment.
The Senate also was expected to also pass the bill Tuesday, putting it in the hands of Gov. Tim Walz for enactment. The Legislature is scheduled to convene again on April 14.