New COVID-19 Laws Passed in Wisconsin

Yesterday, Governor Evers signed a coronavirus relief package, 2019 Wisconsin Act 185, into law which impacts “first responder” employees, as well as various Wisconsin businesses, and farmers. While state Democrats criticized the bill for not going far enough to provide meaningful aid to employees and business, the new laws include some important provisions that will impact Ansay clients statewide. Some of these impactful law changes are highlighted here:

  • Suspends the one-week unemployment insurance waiting period. It also provides relief to employers such that if the unemployment claim is related to COVID-19, the claim will not be charged back to the employer as normally provided.
  • Extends worker's compensation benefits to “first responders” diagnosed with COVID-19 and creates a presumption that COVID-19 claims are caused by the individual’s employment.

Importantly, the language of the bill related to worker’s compensation states:

"This bill provides that, for the purposes of worker's compensation, an injury caused to a first responder, during any public health emergency declared by the governor on March 12, 2020, by executive order 72 and ending 30 days after the termination of the order, is presumed to be caused by the individual's employment. The presumption requires a diagnosis or positive test for COVID-19, and may be rebutted by specific evidence that the injury was caused outside of employment."

A first responder is defined in the bill as:

“first responder” means an employee of or volunteer for an employer that provides fire fighting, law enforcement, medical, or other emergency services, and who has regular, direct contact with, or is regularly in close proximity to, patients or other members of the public requiring emergency services, within the scope of the individual's work for the employer.

  • Prohibits retail establishments from accepting the return of fresh or packaged food, cleaning supplies, personal care products, or paper products.
  • Exempts manufacturers, distributors, and retailers of PPE from civil liability for death or injury caused by their donations or sales of personal protection equipment during the current health emergency.
  • Prohibits school boards and charter schools from considering pupil attendance in school assessments evaluating teachers and principals.
  • Extends or waives certain requirements related to Wisconsin Parental Choice and Special Needs Scholarship Programs. 
  • Makes health care providers immune from civil liability from services provided during the pandemic.   
  • Prohibits certain insurers from prohibiting coverage based on a COVID-19 diagnosis or requiring cost-sharing for COVID-19 testing.
  • Exempts persons who manufacture, distribute, or sell emergency medical supplies from civil liability
  • Makes health care providers immune from civil liability from services provided during the pandemic.

A complete copy of the bill can be found in the link below.  As always, please contact your Ansay agent if you have questions regarding how this new law impacts your business.

https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2019/related/acts/185.pdf

Alan Edwards

Claims Advocate Manager

Port Washington - Corporate Headquarters

alan.edwards@ansay.com