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April 23, 2020

State Fund Now Accepting Essential Worker COVID-19 Workers’ Comp Claims

Effectively immediately, the State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF) will accept any claim by an essential worker for a diagnosed case of COVID-19. This is regardless of whether or not that worker can demonstrate the virus was contracted during the course of employment. The change directly affects all essential businesses who are insured with SCIF for their workers’ compensation.

According to an alert by Saqui Law Group, the diagnosis must include a confirmed positive test for COVID-19 and must occur during the period of time between when California Governor Gavin Newsom issued his Shelter-in-Place order (March 19, 2020) and before that order is lifted.

This change by SCIF comes as Governor Newsom is considering issuing an Executive Order mandating that all essential workers who are not sheltering-in-place and contract COVID-19 be covered by workers’ compensation, which would apply to agricultural employees. The EO would be devastating to agriculture, as the industry is already reeling from the widespread shelter-in-place orders, which has resulted in the virtual collapse of the foodservice sector and corollary challenges in the retail marketplace.

Western Growers Insurance Services (WGIS) suggests those who are insured with SCIF to adhere to usual workers’ compensation claim reporting requirements. This includes:

  • informing any supervisor, foreperson or other person of authority of a work-related illness/injury should be considered notice of a potential claim;
  • claims should be promptly reported to the insurance carrier;
  • an employer should not discourage/disincentive reporting of a workers’ compensation claim; and
  • employers should in no way discriminate against an employee who elects to file or pursue a workers’ compensation claim.

WGIS and Saqui Law Group are monitoring this development closely and will provide any updates here in Spotlight. For questions, contact WGIS Director of Risk Strategy Ken Cooper at (949) 413-8751.