The team over at The Way is tracking workers' compensation changes related to COVID-19.
California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an Executive Order on May 6, 2020, enacting sweeping changes to the state’s workers’ compensation system. The order creates a rebuttable presumption that if an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19 while working outside the home that the employee contracted COVID-19 on the job and is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. This order applies to all workers, not just essential workers.
The presumption applies to any worker who reported outside of the home at the employer’s direction and received a positive test or physician diagnosis for COVID-19 within 14 days of the worker’s last day working outside the home. If the worker received a physician diagnosis, then the diagnosis needs to be confirmed by further testing within 30 days of the date of the diagnosis.
The order is applicable to all California workers and reduces the timeframe for determining COVID-19 compensability from the general 90 days to 30 days. Failure to do so within 30 days of notice of the loss, the COVID-19 claim will be presumed compensable unless rebutted by evidence only discovered subsequent to the 30-day period.
For a broader summary of California’s Executive Order, click here.
In related news, the California Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau (WCIRB) previously issued a research brief that looked into the cost of a conclusive presumption for essential critical infrastructure employees. The annual cost had a mid-range estimate of $11.2 billion. Governor Newsom’s order created a rebuttable presumption for all employees. The California Chamber of Commerce issued a statement after Newsom’s announcement stating that the order will unnecessarily and significantly drive up costs for California employers through increased workers’ compensation insurance rates and will shift the cost of this pandemic to employers.
We will continue to keep you informed of these developments.