What Do California’s COVID-19 Workers’ Comp Changes Mean For Employers?

June 15, 2020
Sacks & Zolonz, LLP
Workers' Compensation Defense

We have previously discussed the implications of COVID-19 on employers in the Los Angeles area. First and foremost, it is vital that every employer take steps to keep their workers safe during this ongoing health crisis. Businesses also need to be aware of how changes to the state workers’ compensation laws will affect their overall operating costs. Will Governor Gavin Newsom’s executive order concerning workers’ compensation affect your business? Here, we want to discuss what a rebuttal presumption is and how this will affect your company.

The California Workers’ Comp Change

On May 6, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order that determined any COVID-19-related illness of an employee in the state will be presumed to arise out of the course of their employment when it comes to awarding workers’ compensation benefits. Specifically, this executive order says that workers can access these benefits as long as the employee tests positive for COVID-19 within 14 days of performing their job-related duties (so long as the duties were not performed at home).

This order has significantly altered the way that most workers’ compensation claims are handled concerning illnesses in the workplace. In general, most employees would be ineligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits for contracting an illness that is widely spread throughout the general public, such as influenza.

This executive order shifts the burden of proof onto the employer, meaning that the only way that a worker would not receive benefits would be if an employer can prove that the employee did not contract COVID-19 while performing workplace duties. Amidst this ongoing pandemic, this would be incredibly difficult.

The concern for businesses will quickly turn to whether or not this will eventually raise workers’ compensation premiums. This could be a big deal because affording insurance is already difficult for many companies, particularly smaller businesses in California.

While it may be difficult to prove that an employee did not contract COVID-19 while working for your company, we do want to point out that you absolutely still have to carry workers’ compensation insurance, even in the midst of this pandemic. Failing to carry insurance for your employees could result in serious fines and even criminal penalties. If your premiums do go up, please find ways to afford the costs. The penalties for failing to carry insurance far outweigh well your additional increase in premiums may be.

Let Our Team Help You Through This

If you have any questions about how COVID-19 will affect your workers’ compensation premiums or requirements, you need to speak to an attorney with experience handling these situations. When you call the team at Sacks & Zolonz, LLP, we are going to make sure that you are doing everything necessary to remain on the right side of the law when it comes to ensuring your employees. Let our Los Angeles workers compensation defense attorneys help you get through this situation today. You can contact us for a consultation of your case by clicking here or calling 310-216-7778.

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