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What is the Illinois Public Employee Disability Act?

Written by Ankin Law Office

The Illinois Public Employee Disability Act was passed in 1997 to protect public employees who face dangerous conditions in the line of duty. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 5.6 out of 100 public employees missed at least one day of work during 2012 because of a work accident. This figure is considerably higher than the 2012 rate of 3.4 injuries per 100 workers in private industry. The Public Employee Disability Act is designed to minimize the negative impact of this increased risk by offering generous benefits to injured public employees.

Which employees are eligible for benefits under the act?

The act applies to a broad range of workers in the public sector, including all of the following:

  • Law enforcement personnel
  • Firefighters
  • Corrections officers
  • Employees of the Department of Human Services
  • Employees in state-operated mental health facilities

Injured public workers in these categories are entitled to benefits under the act. In the case of corrections officers, DHS employees and mental health professionals, the injury must be traceable to an assault or another harmful action committed by a resident or inmate.

How does the act protect public employees?

When eligible public employees are injured on the job and unable to return to work, the act entitles them to their full regular earnings for up to a year. This is a more generous provision than standard Illinois workers’ compensation, which offers only two-thirds of an employee’s previous wage for temporary total disability. Injured public employees are also protected from other adverse consequences while they recover from their injuries. They cannot lose accrued sick leave, service credits, vacation credits or compensatory time.

Regulations for injured employees under the act

Workers who benefit from the Public Employee Disability Act must adhere to a strict set of regulations. They are forbidden from working during their period of disability, even on an unpaid basis. They may not collect pension benefits or other additional compensation from their employers. They must consent to a medical exam if necessary to determine the current status of their disability. These regulations must be followed precisely. A disabled 43-year-old Chicago firefighter was denied further benefits in 2011 after he was discovered volunteering part-time at his local fire station.

Learn more about your options

If you have suffered a disabling injury while working as an Illinois corrections officer, firefighter, law enforcement officer or other public employee, you have a right to compensation under the Public Employee Disability Act. Contact a legal professional today to find out more about your options.