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Does Workers’ Comp Cover COVID in Minnesota?

COVID-19 has hit the state of Minnesota hard. Despite the rolling out of vaccines, it will be a long time before businesses recover from the pandemic’s after-effects.

Business owners in Minnesota, like yourself, have felt the effects of the pandemic. From staffing issues to reduced customer flow. Many difficulties have reared their heads.

If your business has continued its operations, good for you. However, one thing to consider is that the risk of COVID-19 remains
high. If one of your employees contracts this serious respiratory disease on the job, you might ask yourself one question:

“Do I pay my sick employee workers’ comp?”

The short answer is “yes”, but this answer comes with a caveat. Minnesota has recently addressed COVID-19 and workers’ comp in the state by announcing what is known as the Presumption Law.

Knowing about the Presumption Law alongside workers’ comp laws in Minnesota is vital in determining whether workers’ comp is required.

To learn more about where the coverage of workers’ comp extends in these trying times, read on!

Minnesota’s New Presumption Law

Minnesota’s legislature convened sometime in August 2020 to pass a bill involving workers’ compensation and COVID-19.

On August 8, 2020, Minnesota’s Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) announced new policies involving workers’ comp eligibility. These policies are appropriations of existing workers’ comp laws in the state and are made in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a compact newsletter, the DLI announced several COVID-related changes and developments that include new rules about QRCs. Also included are rules about meetings and workers’ compensation denials.

The newly formed laws on worker’s compensation eligibility now forbid denials of claims that arise out of COVID-19. Workers’ compensation under the new policies will now be available to workers who contracted COVID-19 on the job.

While many may utilize workers’ compensation, the newly formed laws and policies focus on frontliners. The eligibility for this particular group is built on the presumption that COVID-19 is an occupational disease.

In short, employees deemed as front-liners can utilize workers’ compensation after being infected with COVID-19 on the job. If not, further discretion and qualification of a claim will still be lawful.

Who is a Front Liner in Minnesota?

Front Liners are the focal point of the presumption law. In general, frontline workers are defined as people who perform jobs that require them to be in constant contact with people. Their consistent interactions with the people they serve put them at risk for COVID-19.

This is why the state prioritizes workers’ compensation for frontline workers. Whether infected frontline workers are under medical restrictions in Minnesota or not, they can still receive workers’ compensation. The type of benefit will still be contingent upon several factors like the permanency rating and their weekly wages.

According to the DLI, employees in the healthcare sector are among several groups entitled to workers’ compensation following COVID-19 infection. Under the healthcare sector, the following are eligible for workers’ compensation under the newly crafted Presumption Law:

  • Nurses
  • Nurse aides
  • Healthcare workers or ancillary workers catering to COVID-19 patients in any setting

The above-mentioned along with support workers in the same industry can claim workers’ compensation regardless of the setting in which they work. Healthcare settings can be:

  • Hospitals
  • Acute care facilities
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Long-term or hospice care

Other than employees in the healthcare sector, employees in corrections are also eligible for workers’ compensation. Correctional officers and security counselors fall under this category.

Other than workers in corrections, workers in law enforcement are also eligible. Under the DLIs qualifications, workers in law enforcement include:

  • Police officers
  • Licensed peace officers

Lastly, first responders are also among many who are at risk of COVID-19 due to the nature of their occupations. First responders are:

  • Firefighters
  • Emergency medical services
  • Ancillary personnel of the above mentioned

Do Employees Need to Prove that They Contracted COVID-19 on the Job?

When employees contract COVID-19, they may as per state occupational rules be under medical restrictions in Minnesota. With COVID-19 being considered an occupational disease, medical and work restrictions will be covered by an employer’s insurance provider.

Claiming compensation due to COVID-19 is different from a claim due to a work-related injury. Unlike in work-related injuries, employees do not need to prove that the sole factor for the infection of COVID-19 is the workplace.

According to the DLI’s newsletter, employees only need to provide a positive COVID-19 test result. Also, it needs to be proven that work was partly a factor.

Part of the reason for this is that determining the exact time of contracting COVID-19 is nearly impossible. What can be determined is the concurrence of work and COVID-19 infection.

Nevertheless, one thing an employee needs to prove is that he or she contracted COVID-19 after April 8, 2020. This can be done with a positive COVID-19 test result. Acceptable test results are:

  • Rapid test polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR)
  • Antigen test

Will Medical Restrictions in Minnesota like Self-Isolation Have a Bearing on Workers’ Compensation?

Medical restrictions Minnesota prescribes for COVID-positive workers will not be a bearing on eligibility. The only exception at the time of writing is when such medical restrictions take the form of self-isolation.

Self-isolation may or may not bar a worker from claiming workers’ compensation. This will depend on symptoms and a positive test result.

Without a positive test result, it is not possible to cite COVID-19 as a work-related injury or occupational disease. Hence, a basic requirement will still be a positive test result.

When it comes to self-isolation, the presence of symptoms and the resulting inability to work come into play. In the presence of debilitating symptoms, a self-isolated employee can claim workers’ compensation.

However, an employee can be under medical restrictions in Minnesota without symptoms. In these situations, an employee cannot claim workers’ compensation.

Final Word

In short, workers’ compensation does cover COVID-19. Although certain sectors are prioritized, workers in other sectors can be eligible too. This is especially true if an employee believes to have contracted COVID-19 on the job.

Nonetheless, employees in Minnesota need to show that:

  • They tested positive for COVID-19
  • They tested positive after the 8th of April 2020
  • They experience symptoms that prevent them from working

If you are a business owner in Minnesota, you need to know the state’s new workers’ comp laws in light of COVID-19. If you want a law firm that can give you the right information and representation in these trying times, choose the best law firm in Minnesota, Osterbauer Law!

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