On May 6, 2020, Governor Newsom signed Executive Order N-62-20 expanding the scope of workers’ compensation benefits during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The Order creates a rebuttable presumption that, for the purpose of awarding workers’ compensation benefits, an employee who tests positive for COVID-19 between March 19 and July 3, 2020 contracted the virus at the workplace.
While the presumption is rebuttable, employers should bear in mind that California standards for workers’ compensation coverage are heavily weighted in favor of the employee. The Executive Order further provides that the employer has only 30 days from the date that the claim form is filed to reject and rebut the claim.
The Executive Order states the following:
- The Executive Order is retroactive to March 19 and extends for 60 days from today’s announcement.
- Employees working outside the home that test positive for COVID-19 or are diagnosed positive by a physician or surgeon licensed by the California Medical Board within the time period of the Executive Order are presumed to have contracted the disease at the workplace. If it is a diagnosis, the diagnosis must be confirmed by a positive test within 30 days.
- The presumption applies to all employees directed to work outside the home by their employer. It is not limited to essential employees.
- The presumption is rebuttable by the employer, however, the time for the employer to deny a claim is reduced from the current 90 days to 30 days.
- The rebuttable presumption is in effect for 60 days from May 6, 2020, but coverage continues after the 60 day expiration date.
- Temporary disability payments begin only after the employee uses all other state or federal sick leave benefits.
- Re-testing is required every 15 days during first 45 days of temporary disability payments.
- The Department of Industrial Relations will not require or accept a “no beneficiary” death benefit.
We suggest you reach out to your individual workers’ compensation insurance provider to determine how the Executive Order will impact your business and the procedure to follow should you have an employee test positive for COVID-19.
Additionally, several legislative measures have been introduced that deal with various aspects of workers’ compensation claims and COVID-19, ranging from providing a conclusive presumption specifically for “frontline” employees to an extending the Governor’s Order through 2021.
The Assembly returned to work on Monday, May 4 and the Senate is due to return on Monday, May 11. Policy committees will meet on an expedited schedule and both Houses have greatly condensed their scope of work to prioritize COVID-19 related legislation.
CCM is monitoring these and other bills and is working hard to ensure the needs and concerns of California’s citrus industry are addressed as the state charts a plan for recovering from the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis.