Q. I got COVID-19 because I had to go to work during the Governor’s Stay-at-Home orders, do I qualify for workers’ compensation?
A. COVID-19 first responders and front-line workers who contracted the disease on the job between March 9 and December 31, 2020, may now be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits thanks to a new law signed by Governor Pritzker. Only workers whose jobs require them to have contact with the public OR work in a location with more than 15 employees qualify. Eligible first responders and front-line workers include essential infrastructure workers such as construction, sewer, water, and waste management, etc.; individuals employed as police, fire personnel, emergency medical technicians, or paramedics; all individuals employed and considered as first responders; all workers for health care providers, including nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities and home care workers; corrections officers; and other individuals employed by essential businesses and operations as defined in Executive Order 2020-10 dated March 20, 2020.
Q. I'm an essential worker, where can I get child care for my children when I'm working?
A. Effective April 1st, all essential workers in health care, human services, essential government services & essential infrastructure now qualify for Illinois' Child Care Assistance Program, meaning the state will cover most, if not all, of the cost of care. That includes everyone from nurses and doctors to support staff in hospitals to grocery store clerks, food producers, and construction workers. Full details & applications are available now on the Illinois Department of Human Services website.
A dedicated helpline has been created so Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (CCR&Rs) can help connect essential workers to emergency child care. Call toll-free (888) 228-1146. You can also search for providers in your area by clicking here.
For residents in Cook County: Text: 312-736-7390 Monday through Friday between 8:30 AM-5:00 PM. Priority will be given to first responders, health care workers, and essential workers to help them find and pay for child care.
Q: Were the additional Unemployment Insurance benefits extended?
A. The American Rescue Plan signed by President Biden on March 11, 2021 extended the enhanced unemployment insurance to September 6, 2021. This included an extension of the federal unemployment insurance bump that was added to all unemployment benefits (Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, or FPUC), at the current law amount of $300. It also included extensions of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which expanded eligibility for the self-employed, gig workers, freelancers and others in non-traditional employment who do not qualify for regular unemployment insurance, as well as the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program, which made additional weeks of benefits available to workers who exhausted their state benefits. All other CARES Act and Families First Act unemployment programs were similarly extended until September 6. The bill also created a $10,200 tax exclusion for unemployment compensation income for tax year 2020.