May 26, 2020

California Dramatically Expands Eligibility for Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Employees Diagnosed with COVID-19

COVID Worker's Comp Claim

On May 6, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-62-20, immediately creating a major change in how claims of work-related COVID-19 suffered by employees in California will be handled. The Executive Order can be found here. While employees typically must prove that they were injured on the job to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, Executive Order N-62-20 creates a rebuttable presumption that an employee who tests positive for COVID-19 contracted the virus at work if the following conditions are met:

  1. The employee tested positive for or was diagnosed with COVID-19 within 14 days of performing labor or services at the employee’s place of employment at the employer’s direction;
  2. The day the employee performed labor or services at the employee’s place of employment at the employer’s direction was on or after March 19, 2020 and through July 5, 2020;
  3. The location where the employee performed labor or services was not the employee’s home or residence, and;
  4. The diagnosis was done by a physician, not a chiropractor, acupuncturist or etc., who holds a physician and surgeon license issued by the California Medical Board and the diagnosis is confirmed by further testing within 30 days of the date of the diagnosis.

By creating this presumption, California is attempting to streamline these cases and eliminate the difficult causation issue that employees would otherwise face.  The time period for the employer to respond to this type of case is reduced from 90 days to 30 days.  The 30-day clock starts on the date that the claim for is filed.  This rebuttable presumption is retroactive to March 19, 2020.

If you have any questions about this client alert, please contact your SGR Labor and Employment counsel.

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