California: FAQ Provides Further Guidance on New Workers’ Comp Rule

APPLIES TO

All Employers with CA Employees

EFFECTIVE

May 6, 2020

QUESTIONS?

Contact HR On-Call

(888) 378-2456

On May 6, 2020, Gov. Newsom issued an Executive Order stating that employees are presumed to have contracted COVID-19 in the workplace for purposes of receiving workers’ compensation benefits if certain criteria are met. A few weeks later, the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) issued FAQs to further explain how the Executive Order will be applied. The FAQs confirm that all California employees who work at a jobsite outside their home at the direction of their employer between March 19, 2020 and July 5, 2020 and who test positive for COVID-19 within 14 days of working at their jobsite are presumed to have contracted any COVID-19-related illness at work for the purposes of awarding workers’ compensation benefits. There is no distinction between employees working in “essential” industries or providing “essential” services and those who are not.

The FAQs provide guidance on pending workers’ comp claims related to COVID-19. Specifically, The Executive Order does not apply to COVID-19-related claims, regardless of date of injury, that were accepted by the claims administrator as compensable prior to May 6th. Those claims are handled the same way as other accepted claims would be absent the Executive Order. However, where the denial occurred before the Executive Order, the employer may reconsider and accept the claim based upon the order or stand by the denial. However, if the employer does not reverse its decision, the employee can file for a hearing if they believe they are entitled to benefits under the Executive Order.

Additionally, employers must reinstate employer-sponsored paid sick leave, vacation, or paid time off for employees who were diagnosed with COVID-19 and used their accrued paid leave at a time when they should have bene receiving temporary disability benefits. One caveat is that for federal or state mandated paid leave specifically used in response to COVID-19 (such as under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act or Executive Order N-51-20), then the employee must use that sick leave before they receive temporary disability benefits.

As this is a new development for all businesses with California employees, employers should continue to look for updates on this topic.

Action Items

  1. Review the FAQs here.
  2. Review previously denied workers’ comp claims with legal counsel for further guidance.
  3. Reinstated accrued paid sick leave, vacation, or PTO where appropriate.
  4. Subscribers can call our HR On-Call Hotline at (888) 378-2456 for further assistance.

Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser.

© 2020 ManagEase

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