Judge Blocks New Illinois Workers' Compensation Rule for Essential Employees

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A judge has blocked a new Illinois workers' compensation rule granting benefits to any employee deemed essential who contracts COVID-19, even if working from home.

Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge John M. Madonia issued a temporary restraining order Thursday blocking the rule following a lawsuit filed by the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association and the Illinois Retail Merchants Association this week against emergency amendments adopted by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. More than two dozen business groups supported the lawsuit.

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission decreed earlier this month that any worker deemed essential during the pandemic who contracts COVID-19 is granted an automatic assumption that she or he contracted it at work, even if working remotely, allowing for workers’ compensation benefits covered by employers.

At the time, nine trade associations representing manufacturing, lodging, retail and other economic sectors released a joint statement calling it “a drastic policy change that will significantly increase costs” while many businesses are awaiting federal assistance to meet payroll and retain workers.

The Workers’ Compensation Commission had no comment on the Madonia's ruling, spokesman Mike Matulis said in an email Friday.

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