COVID-19, I PRESUME « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles


Workers Compensation Coverage for Diagnosed Workers

California employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance for on-the-job injuries and job-related illnesses.

California governor Newsom’s May 6, 2020 Executive Order N-62-20 (the order) directs that workers contracting COVID-19-related illness between March 19 and July 5, 2020 are presumed entitled to full work comp coverage, including medical care, temporary disability, permanent disability, supplemental job displacement, vocational rehabilitation, and death benefits..

The presumption applies if the employee worked at a jobsite outside her or his home at the employer’s direction between March 19, 2020 and July 5, 2020 and then tested positive for or was diagnosed with COVID-19 within 14 days.

Employers may dispute the presumption within 30 days of the date the claim is filed with “other evidence” to prove the illness did not occur due to work duties.

The order also confirms that insurance carriers may “adjust the costs of their policies” accordingly, which likely means increased rates.

On May 19, 2020, the California Department of Industrial Relations published FAQs to clarify  the diagnosis/testing criteria and to confirm the presumption applies to all workers of “essential” and “non-essential” industries or services.

Employers should consider taking these proactive steps:

  • Implement an overall COVID-19 return to work plan.
  • Establish and enforce infectious disease control and hygiene safety policies to prevent and reduce workplace exposure to COVID-19.
  • Confirm adequate commercial general liability coverage for third-party “communicable diseases” claims, for example the relative of an infected employee asserting the employer is liable for the relative having contracted COVID-19 from that worker in turn.
  • Confirm whether policies require employer control over or consent to the settlement of any COVID-19-related claims.
  • Seek outside legal advice before settling any COVID-19-related insurance claims.

See also:

For more information about this law or other employment issues related to COVID-19, contact Tim BowlesCindy Bamforth or Helena Kobrin.

Cindy Bamforth

May 20, 2020