SB 1159: COVID-19 URGENCY LEGISLATION
Gov. Newsom issued an Executive Order on May 6 which created a short-term rebuttable presumption involving COVID-19 exposure at work, which the CA Legislature incorporated as part of SB 1159 which provides:
a) LC 3212.86: Codifies the Executive Order regarding coronavirus exposure from 3/19/20 to 7/5/20 for all workers. One change from the original Order is to allow the diagnosis to also be made by a physician's assistant or a nurse practitioner as oppose to just by a physician or surgeon.
b) LC 3212.87 (Emergency Workers): Applies only to front-line workers such as firefighters, peace officers, health care workers as well as in-home supportive services whose COVID-19 diagnosis is presumed compensable if they tested positive within 14 days of having worked on/after 7/6/20; however, this presumption does not apply to an employee at a health facility if the employer proves there was no contact with a positive tested patient. Condition is presumed compensable if not denied with 30 days.
c) LC 3212.88 (Non-Emergency Workers): COVID-19 diagnosis is presumed compensable if an employee tests positive within 14 days of work on/after 7/6/20 and occurred during an "outbreak" which means at least 4% positive tests if have over 100 employees, or at least four (4) people testing positive if have under 100 workers, or if the workplace is closed by a government official because of infection risks. Condition is presumed compensable if not denied within 45 days.
c) TD: Same as the original Executive Order in requiring any specifically designated COVID-19 sick time to be used before entitled to TD benefits, otherwise TD must be paid from the date of disability without a waiting period.
d) Reporting: Employers are required to report within three (3) days to their claims administrator of any employee reporting a work exposure or filing a claim who have tested positive, and report other information such as total number of employees present in the last 45 days (to help assess if there is an "outbreak"). There is a potential $10,000 fine for failure to provide the required reports.
e) Time Frame: LC 3212.87 and LC 3212.88 presumptions extend to January 1, 2023 when they are automatically repealed.
f) Urgency: The bill is considered an "urgency matter" and applies immediately upon being signed into law.
[COMMENT: Governor Newsom is expected to sign SB 1159 according to Sen. Jerry Hill. The other two proposed COVID-19 presumption bills died in the Senate.]