In a win for Minnesota’s firefighters, peace officers, and nurses, legislation passed this week reinstating and extending their ability to collect workers compensation in case they contract COVID-19 on the job more easily.
The legislation, (HF 1203, SF 1203) makes it more likely that they will qualify for workers compensation from the date of enactment until January 13, 2023. However, there is a gap between when the previous legislation ended, December 31, 2021 and when this legislation will be signed into law. Closing this gap is a priority for the Senate DFL according to Senator Jason Isaacson (DFL-Shoreview) and Senator Jen McEwen (DFL-Duluth).
“We faced one of the highest surges in COVID-19 infection rates in the last six weeks, and yet frontline workers could more easily be denied workers compensation benefits if they got sick,” said Senator Isaacson. “Our frontline emergency workers have been putting their lives on the line everyday to take care of Minnesotans throughout this public health emergency, and it is critical that we have their backs. We have to make sure we fix this.”
While it is not known how many workers were impacted by this gap, Minnesota faced record rates of infection in the month of January, with particular strains on nurses and workers in health care facilities. By addressing this gap, qualifying workers, including licensed peace officers, firefighters, health care workers, and others will get the benefits they deserve.
“Right now, hundreds – if not thousands – of those who have sacrificed for all of us are being left behind by this coverage gap,” said Senator Jen McEwen. “Fundamentally, this is a matter of fairness. It is urgent that we make sure each and every one of these workers is able to get the support they need. We cannot delay.”
During discussion on HF 1203 Thursday, a commitment was made to have legislation addressing this gap heard as soon as it was introduced in the Senate Committee on Labor and Industry Policy.