Today, Governor Newsom signed Executive Order N-62-20. This critical order creates a rebuttable presumption that California’s essential employees who contract COVID-19 did so in the course and scope of their employment if certain requirements are satisfied and thus are eligible for workers' compensation benefits.
The presumption, which is disputable by the employer, pertains to employees that have tested positive or been diagnosed by a licensed physician with COVID-19 within 14 days after a day that the employee performed labor or services at the employee’s place of employment, or at the employer’s direction – but not at the employee’s home or residence. In addition to first responders and health care workers, the new executive order also covers other employees who are working during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the Order, the presumption will be in place for the next 60 days and covers claims dating back to March 19, 2020. Once a COVID-19 claim has been filed, the employer will have 30 days to determine whether to accept or deny the claim. The presumption should eliminate most of the causation fighting that is currently happening between the workers’ compensation insurance carriers, third party administrators and those seeking benefits under the California Workers’ Compensation system. However, it is unclear at this time whether employers will make an effort to challenge this order.