California has made it easier for employees who contract COVID-19 at work to receive workers’ compensation benefits for their illness. Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order to give anyone who must work outside of their homes during the stay-at-home order a rebuttable presumption for receiving workers’ compensation benefits. Learn more about what that means.
The COVID-19 Presumption for Workers’ Compensation
Typically in California, employees have to provide evidence that shows that their work injury or illness occurred at work in order to qualify for workers’ compensation. This executive order changes who has to provide the evidence in the case of a COVID-19 illness. Now, if a worker gets COVID-19, it is automatically “presumed” to be a work injury. The employee does not have to provide evidence that they got COVID-19 at work in order to receive the benefits.
Employers are then able to challenge or rebut this presumption with evidence if they do not believe their employee got COVID-19 at work. However, it may be difficult for employers to actually prove that their employees got COVID-19 from someplace outside of the workplace. This means that most workers who work outside of their homes can have their COVID-19 illnesses covered by workers’ compensation.
This presumption is time-limited and will end sixty days after the executive order was issued.
Who Does This Presumption Apply To?
Workers will receive this presumption that their COVID-19 illness is a work injury if:
- their employer asked them to work outside of their home during the California stay-at-home order,
- their work was performed during the time period between March 19, 2020 and July 5, 2020, and
- they received a positive test result or physician diagnosis for COVID-19 within 14 days of their last day working outside of the home.
The Benefits of the COVID-19 Presumption
This temporary change in how Californians can access workers’ compensation benefits is essential to helping workers receive the care they need if they get COVID-19 after returning to work. Given this presumption, it is likely that employers will be more careful about following CDC and OSHA guidelines for preventing and minimizing COVID-19 exposure in the workplace. You can find information on filing a workers’ compensation claim here.