NEWS / Legal News - April 2020
New Workers' Compensation Law extends occupational disease coverage to certain employees who contract COVID-19
H.F. No. 4537
Effective April 8, 2020, a new workers' compensation law states that certain employees who contract COVID-19 are presumed to have an occupational disease covered by Minnesota workers' compensation law. A link to the new statute can be found here.
In summary, occupational disease coverage is extended to certain employees who contract COVID-19, if certain requirements are met, which are summarized below.
- A licensed peace officer under Minnesota Statute Section 626.84 Subd. 1, firefighter, paramedic or emergency medical technician;
- A nurse or healthcare worker, correctional officer or security counselor employed by the state or political subdivision at a correction, detention or secure treatment facility;
- A healthcare provider, nurse or assistive employee employed in healthcare, home care or long-term care, with direct COVID-19 or ancillary work in a COVID-19 patient unit; or
- A person required to provide child care to first responders and healthcare workers under Gov. Walz's Executive Order.
- COVID-19 must be confirmed by a positive laboratory test, or if the test was not available, the employee's symptoms must be diagnosed by a licensed physician or nurse practitioner
- A copy of the test must be given to the employer or the employer's workers' compensation insurer
What this means
If the employee is a covered employee and meets the testing requirements, it is presumed to be a work-related occupational disease. The employer can rebut the presumption that the contraction of COVID-19 is an occupational disease only by showing the employee's employment was not a direct cause of the disease. The statute directs the date of injury to be the date the employee was unable to work due to the contraction of COVID-19 or was unable to work due to symptoms that were later diagnosed as COVID-19, whichever occurs first. The statute does not prohibit and employee who does not meet the requirements of the new statute from bringing a claim as an occupational disease claim under Minnesota Statute Section 176.011, subdivision 15 or claiming a workers' compensation injury under subdivision 16.
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