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April 20 Update from IFPE Local 4408 President Matt Emigholz: Workers' Compensation and Sick Lea

Brothers and Sisters,

I hope you are all well and are minding the Illinois Stay at Home Order. These are unprecedented times for all and the IFPE has been responding to questions and concerns from members and addressing with appropriate agencies. Agencies have been responsive and continue to evaluate employee status and procedures to ensure health and safety measures are in place. We understand some have a concern with the level of PPE that is being provided at this time. As you know, PPE is at a premium worldwide and the priority is for healthcare personnel and first responders. Agencies are making attempts to secure PPE for employees who are working and may be in contact with the public. There are multiple articles regarding Workers Comp, Mental Health, Face covering and the recently written FFCRA law. We understand that there are many questions to be answered regarding this law. IFPE Local 4408 has been in contact with the Governor’s office to seek clarification. As we receive information, we will supply answers to the best of our ability.

Workers’ Compensation and COVID 19

As members continue to serve the public on the front lines, we must be ready to support a presumption of employment cause for members that contract COVID 19. Public employees who have been deemed mission critical and essential during this public health crisis should fill out a workers’ compensation injury form if they contract the disease. Illinois has enacted an emergency amendment to Workers’ Compensation with regards to positive COVID-19 cases. The following is the excerpted amendment:

Section 9030.70 Rules of Evidence EMERGENCY a) The Illinois Rules of Evidence shall apply in all proceedings before the Commission, either upon Arbitration or Review, except to the extent they conflict with the Act, the Workers' Occupational Diseases Act [820 ILCS 310], or the Rules Governing Practice Before the Workers' Compensation Commission (50 Ill. Adm. Code Chapter VI). 1) In any proceeding before the Commission where the petitioner is a COVID-19 First Responder or Front-Line Worker as defined in Section (a)(2), if the petitioner’s injury or period of incapacity resulted from exposure to the COVID-19 virus during a COVID-19-related state of emergency, the exposure will be rebuttably presumed to have arisen out of and in the course of the petitioner’s COVID-19 First Responder or Front-Line Worker employment and, further, will be rebuttably presumed to be causally connected to the hazards or exposures of the petitioner’s COVID-19 First Responder or Front-Line Worker employment. 2) The term “COVID-19 First Responder or Front-Line Worker” means any individuals employed as police, fire personnel, emergency medical technicians, or paramedics and all individuals employed and considered as first responders, health care providers engaged in patient care, correction officers, and the crucial personnel identified under the following headings in Section 1 Part 12 of Executive Order 2020-10 dated March 20, 2020: “Stores that sell groceries and medicine”; “Food, beverage, and cannabis production and agriculture”; “Organizations that provide charitable and social services”; “Gas stations and businesses needed for transportation”; “Financial institutions”; “Hardware and supplies stores”; “Critical trades”; “Mail, post, shipping, logistics, delivery, and pick-up services”; “Educational institutions”; “Laundry services”; “Restaurants for consumption off-premises”; “Supplies to work from home”; “Supplies for Essential Businesses and Operations”; “Transportation”; “Home-based care and services”; “Residential facilities and shelters”; “Professional services”; “Day care centers for employees exempted by [Executive Order 2020-10]”; “Manufacture, distribution, and supply chain for critical products and industries”; “Critical labor union functions”; “Hotels and motels”; and “Funeral services”.

Public Employees Mental Health Support

Public employees are working every day to maintain our society through remote work or in our worksites. AFT has partnered with the Anxiety and Depression Association of America to pull together resources for our members as we deal with our collective increased anxiety during the COVID 19 pandemic. Please share these resources with your colleagues. FIGHT COVID Resources.

Cloth Face Coverings and Face Shields

Every day, we face the challenge of limiting our exposure to COVID-19. Cloth face coverings may have a place in guarding against exposure, but it’s important to understand where they fit in the overall protection strategy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends that you should cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when you have to be out in the public or at work because you are an essential employee. For members who are interacting directly with the public, face shields may be appropriate. For more information about cloth face coverings, AFT has put together a two page document of Face Covering Do's and Don'ts for members. Additionally, here is a video on how to make your own face shield and more information from the AFT on face shields. Members should be following procedures and directives by employing agencies providing face coverings and face shields.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. Please click here for more information on FFCRA.

Also, please view the letter from CMS regarding FFCRA pertaining to the RC units in Local 4408. If you have questions, please reach out to your steward or Area Vice President.

Please continue to follow the social distancing guidelines. Please also continue to follow the Shelter in Place order. We are having a positive effect on flattening the curve. Stay strong, stay united and take care of yourselves first and foremost.

In Solidarity,

Matt Emigholz IFPE Local 4408 President IFT/AFT AFL-CIO

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