Employees on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic needed expanded access to Minnesota workers’ compensation benefits, and on Tuesday, April 7, 2020, Governor Tim Walz took action by signing H.F. 4537 into law. The law expands Minnesota workers’ compensation eligibility for specific COVID-19 front-line employees, as described below, by creating the presumption that a COVID-19 infection is work-related and therefore the employee is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. The employer, however, can rebut this presumption if it proves the COVID-19 infection occurred somewhere else.
Who Is Eligible for the Expanded Benefits?
To be eligible for this expanded workers’ compensation presumption, the worker must have contracted COVID-19 on or after April 8, 2020, while employed as a:
- licensed peace officer, firefighter, paramedic, emergency medical technician, nurse or health care worker
- correctional officer or security counselor employed by the state or a political subdivision
- a health care provider with direct COVID-19 patient care or ancillary work in COVID-19 units, or
- a person required to provide childcare to first responders and health care workers.
If you are one of these workers and contracted COVID-19, then you should inform your employer and are entitled to this workers’ compensation presumption.
How to Claim Workers’ Compensation Benefits Due to COVID-19
If you believe you have contracted COVID-19 at work but are not one of the above categories of workers, you may still claim a workers’ compensation injury if you believe the illness is due to your employment. However, you would not be entitled to the presumption. All employees should immediately notify their employers as soon as possible if they believe they have contracted COVID-19 because of work. Workers’ compensation benefits include medical treatment, monetary benefits for loss of wages, permanent disability, vocational and rehabilitation benefits, and dependency benefits. You should report your COVID-19 injury to your employer if you contracted it at work. You may also want to file a Claim Petition.
Information about workers’ compensation benefits is available at the following websites:
Workers’ Compensation Retaliation
Minnesota employees are protected from their employers retaliating against them for seeking workers’ compensation benefits. This means that your employer cannot threaten to fire you for seeking workers’ compensation, nor may your employer obstruct you from obtaining these benefits. Front-line workers should not fear being fired because they filed for workers’ compensation during this pandemic.
Schaefer Halleen has a team of experienced attorneys who understand the workers’ compensation process and will fight for you if your employer has retaliated against you for seeking these benefits. Contact us promptly if you have experienced any retaliation.