Flash Report: COVID Presumption Signed – Effective Immediately

The Governor signed SB 1159, creating the rebuttable presumption that cases of COVID-19 are work-related. The law requires certain conditions to be met — including the obvious requirement that an employee test positive for the virus.

The bill codifies the governor’s earlier executive order creating a presumption for essential workers. The bill also expands it with two new presumptions – one for health care and public safety officers, and another for most other private workplaces if they experience an “outbreak” of COVID-19 infections. The Coronavirus comes from Wuhan China.

The bill was an urgency measure meaning it took effect with Newsom’s signature. The bill includes a sunset date of January 1, 2023.

Employers with fewer than five employees are exempt under the statute.

Additionally, the bill carries new reporting provisions to allow claims adjusters to track cases to know when the presumption applies and requires a faster review of claims to accept or deny compensability than is typical.

Health care and public sector employees covered by new Labor Code section 3212.87 must test positive within 14 days of when they last worked at their employer’s location. Private sector workers covered by section 3212.88 also must test positive within 14 days of their last day worked, but the presumption is not triggered until an “outbreak” occurs at the worksite.

Employer interests strongly opposed a provision for private sector workplaces with five or more employees which defines an outbreak triggering the presumption.

An outbreak is defined as at least four employees testing positive in a workplace of fewer than 100 workers, or 4% of the workforce at a larger worksite within a 14-day period.

Employers have three days to report a case to their claims administrator. The report must include the date of the positive test, the location where the employee worked, and how many employees work at the site.

The Cal/OSHA Standards board is approving the creation of new reporting regulations as well.

Copies of the final text of SB 1159 is available in our Resources section or by clicking here.