New COVID-19 Presumption law to affect California businesses

Last week Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 1159, creating the presumption that cases of COVID-19 are work-related and entitled to workers’ compensation. The bill is effective immediately, with a sunset date of January 1, 2023.

The order applies to all workers who contract COVID-19 within 14 days of reporting to work at the employer’s direction. It specifies that the place of employment cannot be a home or residence. Employers can challenge the presumption but only under “strict criteria,” according to Governor Newsom. Employers with fewer than five employees are exempt from the new law. 

Because this executive order is causing some confusion, the Sacramento-based law firm Mullen & Filippi recently created this flowchart to help explain

Right now, employers should ensure they’re closely following state and federal health mandates and guidance for preventing or minimizing the risk of COVID-19 exposure in the workplace. They should also be in frequent communication with their legal counsel and their insurance company. 

Is your business protected? Contact us if you have questions about the new changes or handling claims under the order’s shortened compensability timeframe. 

You can read the full text of the new executive on the Governor’s website here, and FAQs on the California Department of Industrial Relations website