On May 6, 2020, Governor Newsom enacted Executive Order N-62-20 regarding the provision of Worker’s Compensation coverage for essential workers. The Executive Order provides that essential employees who contract Covid-19 and meet certain requirements are presumed to have caught it at their place of employment and are therefore entitled to benefits. To qualify for benefits, the employee must (1) either test positive for Covid-19 or be diagnosed by a medical doctor within 14 days or working at their employer’s workplace under the employer’s direction; (2) the work was performed after March 19, 2020; (3) the work was not performed at home or residence; and (4) if relying on a diagnosis without testing, the diagnosis was given by a physician or surgeon licensed in California and confirmed within 30 days of the date of diagnosis.
Employees who work from home or come into the office not under the direction of the employer will not likely be covered under this order. This presumption is only applicable for 60 days following the date of the order and then will lapse. It is unclear if another executive order will be issued or if the California legislature will enact a new law dealing with this presumption. Additionally, if an employer wants to challenge the presumption and argue that Covid-19 was contracted at another location or through an individual outside the place of employment, the employer has 30 days from the filing of the claim form. An employee is entitled to normal Worker’s Compensation benefits (medical benefits, temporary disability, permanent disability, and/or death benefits) after contracting Covid-19. However, if an employer provides Covid-19 specific sick leave, an employee must exhaust this time before being given temporary disability. There are additionally requirements that a doctor re-certify an employee for temporary disability every 15 days for the first 45 days following the diagnosis of Covid-19.
If you have contracted Covid-19 and you are an essential worker, please contact an attorney specializing in Worker’s Compensation. If your employee has contracted Covid-19 and is making a claim, please contact your insurance carrier and/or an attorney.