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Workers' Compensation Legislation Amended - SB 1159 (Hill)

By Dillon Gibbons posted 08-24-2020 09:42 PM


On August 24, SB 1159 (Hill) related to workers’ compensation presumptions due to COVID-19 was amended into what is believed to be its final form. As amended, SB 1159 has four distinct sections as summarized below:

Section 1: Requires the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation (CHSWC) to conduct a study on the impacts claims of COVID-19 have had on the workers’ compensation system, including but not limited to the overall impacts on indemnity benefits, medical benefits, and death benefits.

Section 2: Codifies the Governor’s Executive Order N-62-20 from March which created a rebuttable presumption for the period of March 19, 2020 (Date of Stay-At-Home Order) and July 5, 2020 (60-days from the Order) whereby any employee that has been directed to work outside of their home by their employer during that time period that tests positive or is diagnosed with COVID-19 that the injury is presumed to have taken place in the workplace and therefore would be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.

Section 3: Creates a rebuttable presumption until January 1, 2023, for firefighters, peace officers, and healthcare workers that provide direct patient care that contract COVID-19 within 14 days of working that the illness is a workplace injury and they are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Employers are provided 30-days to contest the injury is a workplace injury.

Section 4: Attempts to address workplace outbreaks and applies to all other employees not covered by other sections that work for an employer that has five or more employees. This section creates rebuttable presumption that an employee contracted COVID-19 at the workplace and they are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if the employee contracts COVID-19 during a workplace “outbreak.” An “outbreak” exists if within a 14 calendar day period an employer has 100 employees or fewer at a specific place of employment and five or more employees test positive for COVID-19, or if the employer has more than 100 employees at a specific place of employment and five percent of the number of employees who reported to the specific place of employment test positive for COVID-19. This section also contains certain reporting requirement and penalties for falsifying records. This section is in place from July 6, 2020 (end of the Governor’s Executive Order) though January 1, 2023. Employers have 45-days to contest the injury is a workplace injury under this section.

While Monday was the final day to amend bills according to the Legislature’s rules, their rules allow them to change the rules as they go along. However, as a result of Proposition 54 (2016), All bills must be in their final form for 72-hours before being passed. That makes the constitutional deadline to amend the bills this Friday, the 28th at midnight, exactly three days before the constitutional deadline for the Legislature to pass bills to the Governor. All that to say, there is still a chance we could see additional changes to SB 1159 up until the 28th. If that happens, CSDA will be sure to let you know. I’ve attached the amendments to this email, and the bill should be publicly available for review in the morning. Should you have any questions about the bill please feel free to contact me at