Essential employeeSPRINGFIELD – Essential workplaces now have more incentive to implement protective health measures thanks to State Senator Ann Gillespie’s (D-Arlington Heights) efforts in negotiating a major labor plan that passed the Illinois Senate Thursday.

“This pandemic has shown just how vulnerable working people are if they get sick on the job,” Gillespie said. “Essential workers and first-responders deserve a safety net, so they and their families are protected from the economic fallout of catching COVID-19.”

The state’s Worker’s Compensation Act generally places the burden of proof on the injured employee and is not applicable to Chicago police, fire or paramedic personnel. Senator Gillespie was successful in negotiating a provision that would create a “rebuttable presumption” that first-responders and essential employees who contract COVID-19 did so on the job.

Employers may rebut the presumption that an employee contracted the virus in the workplace through the following means:

  • Demonstrating that for at least 14 days prior to the date the employee claims injury (their COVID-19 infection) the workplace was following up-to-date public health guidelines appropriate to their type of business issued by the Illinois Dept. of Public Health or the Centers for Disease Control.
  • Demonstrating that the employee in question was working from home for a period at least 14 days prior to the injury claim.
  • Demonstrating that the employee was exposed to the virus by an alternative source outside the workplace.

“These measures will encourage employers to follow the most up-to-date health guidelines to keep their workers safe,” Gillespie said. “The families of first-responders who fall in the line of duty to COVID-19 in Chicago would also be given death benefits under this framework.”

The legislation would also make necessary changes to the state’s unemployment insurance (UI) program so that Illinois continues to qualify for federal relief. These changes include extending UI benefits, waiving waiting periods and expanding UI eligibility to non-instructional school staff.

“I am grateful to the many business and labor groups who came together to negotiate this piece of legislation,” Gillespie said. “Working together, we arrived at an agreed bill that passed with bipartisan support.”

House Bill 2455 passed the Illinois Senate and awaits a final vote in the Illinois House.

Category: News

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Contact Info

Springfield Office:
121A Capitol Building
Springfield IL 62706
Phone: 217-782-4471

Arlington Heights Office:
171 W. Wing St., #202
Arlington Heights IL 60005
Phone: 847-749-1880