October 12, 2021

Best Practices: The Ongoing COVID-19 Workers’ Compensation Presumption

Enacted September 2020, SB 1159 codified and superseded Gov. Newsom’s Executive Order No-62-20. The statute applies to California employers with five or more employees and employees who test positive for COVID-19 during an outbreak at their place of work on or after July 6, 2020. As the state continues to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic it is worth keeping in mind that this statute’s rebuttable presumption remains in effect until January 1, 2023.

The statute establishes a rebuttable presumption of an industrial injury or illness where the employee’s positive test occurred during a period of outbreak at the employee’s place of employment. Evidence controverting the presumption may include, but is not limited to, evidence of measures in place to reduce potential transmission of COVID-19 in the employee’s place of employment and evidence of an employee’s nonoccupational risks of COVID-19 infection. The statute also places a burden on employers to notify their claims administrator within 3 days of being made aware of an employee positive test. The claims administrator is then charged with determining if an “outbreak” has occurred.

Members with questions about COVID-19 mandates should check out Western Growers COVID-19 Resources for additional information.