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House approves bill applying workers’ compensation to COVID-19 cases

Tuesday, April 7, 2020


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.

“If a front-line worker contracts COVID-19 in their efforts to combat the virus, they should be protected by worker’s compensation,” said Rep. Shane Mekeland, R-Clear Lake. “This is not only within the spirit of the law, but it’s the right thing to do given the circumstances we face today. Our front-line workers need to know we have their back and this bill delivers added support they deserve.”

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.


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