The Governor’s Executive Order N-62-20 implemented a presumption in the workers’ compensation system that expires on July 5. It is CHA’s understanding that the order will not be extended. However, three bills are pending in the Legislature that seek to create a presumption, although with varying scope, conditions, and requirements.
- Senate Bill 1159 (Hill) would adopt the Governor’s Executive Order. That bill does not currently contain a sunset date, although it would apply to cases where the employee worked outside the home on or before July 5. CHA believes that the author intends to further amend the bill to add provisions that would apply after July 5. If passed, this bill would go into effect January 1, 2021. CHA is a member of a coalition, led by the California Coalition on Workers’ Compensation, that has expressed concerns with the bill.
- Assembly Bill (AB) 664 (Cooper and Gonzalez) would create a conclusive presumption in workers’ compensation for any first responder or direct patient care acute care hospital worker who is exposed to or contracts a communicable disease, including COVID-19, that is the subject of a state or local declaration of a state of emergency. In addition to workers’ compensation benefits, the bill would require employers to provide other benefits, such as living expenses and temporary housing costs. This bill does not contain a sunset and would apply to all future public health emergencies. It is an urgency bill that would go into effect immediately if passed. CHA is a member of a coalition opposing the bill.
- AB 196 (Gonzalez) would apply a conclusive presumption to workers in industries deemed essential by the Governor’s Executive Order N-33-20, other than those workers covered by AB 664. The conclusive presumption would apply to employees who test positive for COVID-19 after March 1, 2020. There is no sunset date on this bill. If passed, the bill would go into effect January 1, 2021. CHA is a member of a coalition opposing this bill.
Given that the Governor’s Executive Order expires on July 5, it is unlikely that any legislation, even if passed, would be signed before September. Because workers’ compensation legislation can be applied retroactively, hospitals need to decide on how to handle COVID-19 related workers’ compensation claims during the period July 6 through September — specifically, whether to continue to apply the presumption assuming a new law will pass, or whether to discontinue applying a presumption with the understanding that, if a new law passes, they will likely need to convert some situations as covered by workers’ compensation.