Gov. Walz Signs Bill Extending Protections for First Responders, Frontline Workers

Governor Tim Walz has signed Chapter 32, HF 1203, into law, renewing and extending presumptive workers’ compensation eligibility for emergency first responders and front-line workers.

In April 2020, a temporary law took effect that creates the presumption that a COVID-19 infection is work-related unless the employer can prove that infection happened elsewhere. The presumption applies if:

  • The individual is employed in one of four specified occupations, including “a health care provider, nurse or assistive employee employed in a health care, home care or long-term care setting, with direct COVID-19 patient care or ancillary work in COVID-19 patient units”; and
  • A positive laboratory test confirms the infection or, if a laboratory test was not available, as diagnosed and documented by a licensed physician or physician extender based on the employee's symptoms.

The policy initially was set to expire May 1, 2021, but the Legislature and Governor last year enacted legislation extending it through Dec. 31, 2021. The most recent legislation extends it again through Jan. 13, 2023. The renewal of the presumption applies as of the date of enactment, which was Feb. 3. At this time, the presumption does not apply to employees contracting COVID-19 between Jan. 1 and Feb. 2; however, some lawmakers have signaled an intention to develop a second bill that would close that gap. 

The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry has not updated its Frequently-Asked-Questions document (April 28, 2021) to reflect the extended dates to which the presumption applies. However, the FAQ still provides relevant information about the policy.

We will follow this issue and provide updates to members if there are developments on the proposals to extend the presumption to January 2022.

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