Our goal is to keep you informed of what new orders may be coming from the Governor.
CPSA’s Government Relations Director, John Norwood, has learned Governor Gavin Newsom is likely to issue a new Executive Order that would create a conclusive presumption that all workers deemed essential, on the official list of essential workers, would be covered for claims under workers’ compensation if they become sick or quarantined by a physician due to COVID-19. The proposed Executive Order, which could be issued as soon as Wednesday, April 22, would potentially include the following:
- Not captioned as a conclusive presumption of coverage, but it is intended to be for all essential workers not working from home
- Will contain safeguards to prevent fraud
- Eligibility will include a confirmed positive test or something that respects medical protocols, or acute medical care
- Some type of verification required to prevent double-dipping with sick leave and other COVID-19 special benefits, such as extended sick leave
- Claims for COVID-19 would not impact an employer’s future experience rating modifications; however, this does not apply to self-insured employers
- Would be backdated to March 20 through the end of the current Shelter-in-Place Emergency Order, not including future modifications of the Emergency Order
So, what does this mean for you and what can you do?
If you made the decision, or the decision was dictated to you to close your business, this should not affect your business.
If you have been working, this could affect you should an employee be diagnosed with COVID-19 or be quarantined by a physician. This order would mean there would be a presumption the employee was infected at work, thus eligible for workers’ compensation coverage and benefits. Because there is no way to prove where the virus was contracted, the Governor is establishing a presumption in which it was contracted at work.
A bit of good news is if a claim is filed and benefits are covered and paid, the claim will not count against your experience modifications which affect your future rates. Also, with so many Californians out of work due to the various Shelter-in-Place orders and the availability of the Payroll Protection Program for businesses to keep employees compensated while not working, likely, this will not put a lot of stress on the workers’ compensation system.
It is always suggested you consult with a labor law advisor or labor law attorney for advice on this and all employment matters. If you need a referral for a labor law attorney, please contact CPSA at email@example.com for a list of references.
More on this as the story develops.