Emergency responders in Minnesota may soon be able to collect workers’ compensation if they become infected with COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, while working on the front lines.
The proposal was pitched on Thursday by legislators who are considering adding extra provisions for individuals working in emergency services during the coronavirus outbreak. The new bill states that firefighters, police officers, nurses, medical workers and certain first responders would have the presumptive ability to pursue a workers’ compensation claim if they contract COVIS-19 and are unable to work for a period of time. “Presumptive ability” means that workers would not need to prove beyond a doubt that they contracted the virus while in the line of duty – their line of work means that we can presume that they were exposed at their job.
Presumptive Work Comp Claim
As it currently stands, a worker would have to prove that they contracted the virus as a direct result of their exposure while on the job. Minnesota House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler believes that’s a preposterous position to put workers in during a time of crisis.
“To have to prove that they contracted COVID in the workplace, as if anybody could step forward and prove exactly where they contracted this disease,” said Winkler. The organizations and businesses that…should be representing the workers and who should be willing to step up have been unwilling to provide a workers’ comp presumption of a workplace contact with COVID.”
Chris Parsons, president of the Minnesota Professional Fire Fighters Association, agreed with Winkler.
“These are not normal times,” said Parsons. “This is a crisis and in crisis we need decisive action and we need to stand up for the men and women that are on the front lines protecting the public.”
Parsons said 70 firefighters in the St. Paul Fire Department have already filled out COVID-19 exposure reports, and six are currently in quarantine.
This bill was co-authored by State Rep. Dan Wolgamott, DFL-St. Cloud and Sen. Jeff Howe, R-Rockville.
“I am ashamed that we’re asking them to not only put their physical health on the line for us, but their financial health on the line for us because we have failed to have their backs,” Wolgamott said. “Minnesota can do better.
We’ll keep tabs on the bill to see if it passes, and we’ll continue to fight for the rights of first responders in Minnesota. If you are a first responder and you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus and you or a family member has contracted the virus, give Dean Margolis and the team at Margolis Law Office a call today and let us earn you the compensation you deserve.