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Governor Signs COVID-19 Workers’ Compensation and Employer Notification Bills

By Dillon Gibbons posted 09-17-2020 04:33 PM


Today, Governor Gavin Newsom signed two COVID-19 related employment bills into law, SB 1159 (Hill, Daly) – COVID-19 workers compensation presumption and AB 685 (Reyes) – Employer COVID-19 exposure notification requirements. Both bills are briefly summarized below.

SB 1159, which takes effect immediately establishes a rebuttable presumption whereby if a first responder (police, fire, healthcare worker) contracts COVID-19 that it is presumed that the employee contracted the illness at work and is eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

Additionally, the bill sets up a workers’ compensation presumption for all employees if there is a workplace “outbreak.” An outbreak is defined as, for employers with fewer than 100 employees, four or more employees contract COVID-19 within a 14 day period. For employers with more than 100 employees, an outbreak is when four percent or more of an employer’s employees contract COVID-19 within a 14-day period. Once an employer has experienced an outbreak the presumption stays in effect until January 1, 2023.

Please note that, even without a presumption, employees may still qualify for workers’ compensation as a result of contracting COVID-19, it just wouldn’t be automatically presumed that it was a workplace injury.

AB 685 (Reyes), which becomes effective January 1, 2021, will require all employers, except police fire and healthcare employers where there is an expectation of exposure, to notify all employees at a worksite within one business day of potential exposure to COVID-19 when the employer is informed that an exposure may have occurred at that worksite. Additionally, the employer will be required to inform ALL employees of the benefits and leave available to them each time a potential exposure occurred at any of their worksites. 

For specific details on SB 1159 and AB 685 and to read the actual language of the new laws please click on the links above. Additionally, CSDA plans to provide greater detailed analysis and guidance on these bills to our membership in the coming weeks in CSDA’s eNews as part of our annual New Laws Series.