New California Law Changes COVID-19 Workers’ Comp

William J. Kropach

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly altered many aspects of the California workers’ compensation system. In an effort to assist employees who contracted the virus, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order making it easier for workers to prove they contracted COVID-19 in the workplace. The executive order allowed for a rebuttal presumption, basically presuming that an essential worker who contracted the virus did so during the course of their employment. The original executive order allowed for workers to recover compensation if they worked outside of their home during the period ranging from March 19 through July 5, 2020. Now, the state legislature has codified this executive order and made some changes as well.

What does the new workers’ compensation law do?

Gov. Newsom’s Executive Order N-62-20, mentioned above, was issued on May 6, 2020. However, effective immediately, Senate Bill (SB) 1159 codifies that executive order and also makes minor changes. The changes to the order include the following:

  • A COVID-19 diagnosis can be made not only by a licensed physician or surgeon but also by a state-licensed physician assistant or nurse practitioner, so long as they are acting under the supervision of a physician or surgeon.
  • Available paid sick leave benefits in response to a COVID-19 diagnosis must be used before any other benefits under Labor Code Sections 4800, 4800.5, and 4850 are due and payable.

The changes that are in place under the new Senate bill apply to pending claims, including those already relying on the executive order issued by the governor. This new law cannot be the basis to resend, alter, amend, or reopen any workers’ compensation awards already issued under the executive order. This new law will remain in effect until January 1, 2023.

Senate Bill (SB) 1159 expands the presumption to a range of frontline workers who were not previously covered and will make it easier for those who contract COVID-19 in an out of the course of their employment duties to secure workers’ compensation benefits.

Traditionally, when a worker contracts an illness that is widely spread through the public, they would not be entitled to these benefits. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly altered the way that legislators view workers’ compensation in these situations.

Call our Los Angeles workers’ compensation attorneys today

If you or somebody you love has been diagnosed with COVID-19, and you believe they contracted the virus during the course of their employment duties, speak to an attorney as soon as possible. At the Law Offices of Kropach & Kropach, our skilled attorneys understand how the current workers’ compensation laws will affect you, and we are ready to help you secure the compensation you deserve. This can include coverage of your medical bills related to the COVID-19 diagnosis, lost income for any time period you are unable to work, and possible disability benefits if warranted. When you need a Los Angeles workers compensation attorney, you can contact us for a free consultation by clicking here or calling us at 818-600-4714.

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