Governor Newsom Announces COVID-19 Workers’ Compensation Presumption in Favor of Employees
During a May 6, 2020, press briefing, Governor Newsom announced his latest executive order addressing COVID-19 in the workplace. Executive Order N-62-20 creates a workers’ compensation rebuttable presumption that employees diagnosed with COVID-19 contracted the virus at work. This order will apply retroactively to employees who test positive for COVID-19 and have worked outside the home from March 19, 2020, until July 5, 2020 and is broadly worded to include “[a]ny COVID-19 related illness.” Any employee who tests positive or receives a COVID-19 diagnosis “within 14 days after a day that the employee performed labor or services at the employee’s place of employment” will fall under the presumption. However, the presumption does not apply if an employee’s home or residence is his or her “place of employment.”
At his press briefing, Governor Newsom declared that this new presumption would apply across all sectors including healthcare personnel, first responders, and those essential employees who have been in the workforce during the shelter-in-place orders requiring Californians to remain at home. The governor stressed that he wanted to provide certainty for workers who are diagnosed with COVID-19. He declared that the presumption helps workers obtain benefits, in particular, medical and disability payments, if diagnosed with COVID-19 without the usual hurdles of proof or causation in the workers’ compensation forum.
Under the executive order, an employee must use all available paid sick leave that the employee received specifically for COVID-19, if any, before any temporary disability payments are payable. The executive order also eliminated any waiting period for COVID-19 temporary disability benefits.