Friday, August 28, 2020

PEDA Temporarily Extended for COVID-19 or Related Illnesses

Earlier this month, the Illinois legislature passed temporary legislative amendments to the Public Employee Disability Act ("PEDA"). As public employers may likely know, PEDA provides that public safety employees are guaranteed up to 12 months of full pay in the event they are injured in the line of duty (the same standard as that which is applied in worker's compensation claims) and are unable to perform their duties. The new legislation, part of Senate Bill 471, which also enacted mask requirements and penalties reported about earlier, states the following:

(b-5) Upon the occurrence of circumstances, directly or indirectly attributable to COVID-19, occurring on or after March 9, 2020 and on or before December 31, 2020 which would hinder the physical recovery from an injury of an eligible employee within the one-year period as required under subsection (b), the eligible employee shall be entitled to an extension of no longer than 60 days by which he or she shall continue to be paid by the employing public entity on the same basis as he or she was paid before the injury. The employing public entity may require proof of the circumstances hindering an eligible employee's physical recovery before granting the extension provided under this subsection (b-5).

In summary, this amendment to the PEDA allows for an additional 60 days of benefits for those whose injury is related to COVID-19. This extension of benefits applies only to those injuries that occur between March 9, 2020, and December 31, 2020.

PEDA only applies to public safety officers and not to the "emergency responders" identified in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act which is far more expansive. As readers likely know, a few months ago the legislature amended the Workers Compensation Act to create a presumption that public safety officers who develop COVID-19 were exposed in the line of duty and therefore are eligible for workers' compensation benefits.