Covid 19 Resources

Covid-19 Resources: California


California
2020-09-18

On 9/17/2020 Governor Newsom signed a pair of Bills into Law. Bills expand access to workers’ compensation and require employers to notify local officials and employees of COVID-19 outbreaks in the workplace.

On 9/17/2020 Governor Newsom signed a pair of Bills into Law. According to Governor Newsom: “Protecting workers is critical to slowing the spread of this virus and these two laws will help California workers stay safe at work and get the support they need if they are exposed to COVID-19.”   

 

  • S.B. 1159 expands access to workers’ compensation by creating a rebuttable presumption for front line workers including firefighters, law enforcement officers, health care workers and grocery store employees who test positive for COVID-19 within 14 days of performing labor or services contracted the virus at work and are entitled to workers compensation, unless their employers can show that they contracted the virus elsewhere. The law requires employees who have paid sick leave to exhaust those benefits before any temporary disability benefits can be paid.
  • A.B. 685 requires employers to report potential outbreaks of COVID-19 at their workplaces to public health officials within one business day of learning of the potential exposure. The law also requires employers to report known cases to workers who may have been exposed to COVID-19 within one business day and authorizes the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health to close worksites due to COVID-19 hazards. This notification will help workers take necessary precautions such as seeking testing, getting medical help or complying with quarantine directives.

 

Both Laws Take effect immediately and expire January 1, 2023.

  

What this means for employers: The presumption created by SB 1159 applies to all employees who: (1) test positive during an outbreak at the employee’s specific place of employment, and (2) whose employer has five or more employees. The only injury for which the presumption applies is illness or death resulting from COVID-19. However, the following conditions must exist for the presumption to apply: 

 

  • The employee tests positive for COVID-19 within 14 days after a day that the employee performed labor or services at the employee’s place of employment at the employer’s direction.
  • The day on which the employee performed labor or services at the employee’s place of employment at the employer’s direction was on or after July 6, 2020. This must be the last date the employee performed labor or services at the employee’s place of employment at the employer’s direction before the positive test.
  • The employee’s positive test occurred during a period of an outbreak at the employee’s specific place of employment.

SB 1159 states that a “disputable presumption” exists for an employee who suffers illness or death resulting from COVID-19 on or after July 6, 2020 through January 1, 2023. Therefore the employer and claim administrator must work quickly to gather evidence to dispute the presumption. If the date of injury is before July 6, 2020, the claim administrator has 30 days to deny the claim. If the date of injury is on or after July 6, 2020, the claim administrator now has 45 days to deny the claim, or the injury is presumed compensable. The presumption of compensability is rebuttable but only with evidence discovered subsequent to the applicable investigation period. However, if the employee is an “essential employee” as specified in Labor Code Section 3212.87, then the 30-day denial period applies regardless of the date of injury. Such “essential employees” include but are not limited to certain firefighters, peace officers, frontline healthcare providers and healthcare facility workers.

 

Under Labor Code Section 3212.88, an outbreak exists if within 14 calendar days one of the following occurs at a specific place of employment: 

 

  • If the employer has 100 employees or fewer at a specific place of employment, 4 employees test positive for COVID-19.
  • If the employer has more than 100 employees at a specific place of employment, 4% of the number of employees who reported to the specific place of employment test positive for COVID-19.
  • A specific place of employment is ordered to close by a local public health department, the State Department of Public Health, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, or a school superintendent due to a risk of infection with COVID-19.

 

DIR Website

Debra  Tobias

Debra Tobias
Managing Partner, Professional Development

Oxnard (Westlake Village)
Phone: (805) 604-1816


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