Minnesota extends sunset for COVID-19 presumption and raises the minimum compensation rate

The Minnesota Legislature passed workers’ compensation legislation proposed by the Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council.  Of note, the legislature extended the sunset provision for the COVID-19 presumption set forth in Minn. Stat. 176.011, subd. 15(f) for certain healthcare workers and first responders from May 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021.  In essence, the COVID-19 presumption will not apply to any injuries after January 1, 2022 and workers in the occupations where the presumption applied may still assert claims of work place COVID-19 exposure resulting in a personal injury but they will not have the presumption and will have the burden of proving that they contracted COVID-19 due to work place exposure.

Also, for injuries from and after October 1, 2021, the minimum compensation rate was raised from $130.00 per week to 20 percent of the maximum weekly compensation payable or the employee’s actual average weekly wage, whichever is less.  The minimum compensation rate has been $130.00 per week since 2000 and the minimum rate almost double to $233.38 or 20 percent of the current maximum compensation rate $1,166.88.  The legislation still provides that if the average weekly wage is lower than the minimum compensation, the employee’s average weekly wage will be the compensation rate.

Governor Walz signed this legislation into law on April 26, 2021.

Bottom Line

The legislation effectively ends the COVID-19 presumption for covered occupations as of December 31, 2021 but does not foreclose future claims for work related COVID-19 personal injury claims.  Without the presumption, all employees will have the burden of proving the elements necessary to collect workers’ compensation benefits for contracting the COVID-19 illness, specifically that it arose out of and in the course of employment.