SAINT PAUL – Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed legislation delivering workers’ compensation benefits to health care and public safety workers who contract COVID-19 in the line of duty. In particular, the bill provides a presumption that if these workers contract COVID-19, they did so during the course of their employment and are covered by workers’ comp.
“Today we came together to pass an important bill to ensure our health care workers, first responders, and others on the front lines battling this crisis can access workers' compensation benefits if they come down with COVID-19,” said Rep. Dave Lislegard (DFL – Aurora). “These folks are working in dangerous situations to keep us safe and healthy, and we have a responsibility to have their back.”
The legislation is the result of an agreement reached by legislative leaders in both the Minnesota House and Senate, as well as Governor Walz. Occupations covered by the presumption in the bill include firefighters, peace officers, paramedics, EMTs, health care workers, correctional officers, and child care providers who are caring for children of first responders and health care workers under the Governor’s executive orders.
Rep. Lislegard noted that there is more work to do on this issue, including addressing the potential cost of the legislation.
“Getting this bill to the Governor’s desk as soon as possible is urgent to protect our frontline workers, but we need to make sure our local units of government – for instance – aren’t forced to absorb an undue burden,” he said. “There are several possibilities on the table, and I am committed to delivering a solution that works well for our communities and businesses.”
In compliance with recommendations from the Minnesota Department of Health, the majority of legislators voted remotely on the legislation.
A copy of the bill can be found here, and a video recording of the House floor session can be found on the House Public Information YouTube page. The legislation is expected to be passed by the Minnesota Senate and signed by Governor Walz.