ST. PAUL – The Minnesota House on Tuesday approved legislation ensuring first responders receive a temporary expansion of 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.
“As we fight the COVID-19 pandemic in our communities, state and nation, it is clear that our first line of defense, once infected, is our health care and medical providers,” Rep. Jerry Hertaus, R-Greenfield, said. “The measure taken up today addresses the risk, fears and apprehension that our first responders legitimately have over their own health and the safety and welfare of their immediate families. We appreciate the sacrifices made by many working around the clock to not only treat those who are infected, but also pursuing the most expedient treatment and potential cure for COVID-19.”
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 was approved 130 ayes to 4 nays in the House.
Other main components of this legislation include:
Pending Senate approval – anticipated Tuesday afternoon – the bill will be in the hands of Gov. Tim Walz for enactment. The Legislature is scheduled to convene again on April 14.