On February 4, 2022, Governor Tim Walz signed House File (H.F.) 1203 into law, which extends the presumption that certain frontline healthcare workers contracted COVID-19 at work if they test positive. The prior presumption had expired on December 31, 2021. This extension applies to COVID-19 illnesses from February 4, 2022, through January 13, 2023. H.F. 1203 is not retroactive, so it does not grant a presumption to those who contracted COVID-19 between January 1, 2022, and February 3, 2022—the day before the effective date of the new law.
What is the presumption?
In 2020, Minnesota (among several other states) enacted legislation (Minn. Stat. § 176.011, subd. 15 (f)) that created a rebuttable presumption that employees working in certain health and public-safety fields contracted COVID-19 at work if they tested positive for the disease. H.F. 1203 reaffirms that presumption, allowing those employees to obtain workers’ compensation benefits for their illnesses unless their employers can rebut the presumption that they contracted the virus at work.
The law applies to
- licensed peace officers under Stat. § 626.84, subd. 1;
- nurses or health care workers, correctional officers, or security counselors employed by the state or a political subdivision at corrections, detention, or secure treatment facilities;
- emergency medical technicians;
- health care providers, nurses, or assistive employees employed in health care, home care, or long-term care settings, with direct COVID-19 patient care or ancillary work in COVID-19 patient units; and
- workers required to provide child care to first responders and health care workers under Executive Order 20-02 and Executive Order 20-19.
How is the presumption rebutted?
Once an eligible employee tests positive for COVID-19, an employer may rebut the presumption of workers’ compensation coverage only if the employer or the workers’ compensation insurer shows that the individual’s job “was not a direct cause of the disease” and meets the denial requirements under Minn. Stat. § 176.221, subd. 1.
Employers with eligible employees under this law and workers’ compensation insurers may want to consider reviewing H.F. 1203’s extension of the rebuttable presumption provided by Minn. Stat. § 176.011, subd. 15 (f) and dusting off their prior contact tracing and illness investigation practices.
Ogletree Deakins will continue to monitor and report on developments with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic and will post updates in the firm’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center as additional information becomes available. Important information for employers is also available via the firm’s webinar and podcast programs.