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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Nels Pierson (R)

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House approves bill applying workers’ compensation to COVID-19 cases

Tuesday, April 7, 2020


ST. PAUL – The Minnesota House on Tuesday approved legislation ensuring first responders receive their full 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.

“We are counting on front-line workers to help us through this COVID-19 outbreak,” Rep. Nels Pierson, R-Rochester, said. “Those same workers are counting on protections to be there for them if they happen to contract this virus as they fight it. The bill we passed provides clarification to ensure worker’s compensation law applies to these cases. It should provide some peace of mind to our workers and also should prevent a backlog of denials from occurring. It was important to get out in front of this issue and we did that with this bill.”

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 features a sunset date of May 1, 2021. Other main components include:

  • Providing for a presumptive workers’ compensation insurance provision for the state’s first responders, health care workers, and others if they test positive for COVID-19.
  • Providing a list of first responders that fall under the Presumption of Occupational Disease provision.
  • Establishing an effective date for employees who contract COVID-19 on or after the day following final enactment.

The Senate also was expected to also pass the bill Tuesday, putting it in the hands of Gov. Tim Walz for enactment. The Legislature is scheduled to convene again on April 14.