Governor Newsom Signs Executive Order Announcing Workers’ Compensation Presumption for COVID-19

Employment Law  

May 8, 2020

Downey Brand COVID-19 News and Updates

As California begins planning to enter Stage Two of the reopening of California, there are still many questions and uncertainties surrounding how businesses will handle their employees’ health and safety moving forward. On May 6, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Executive Order N-62-20 (the “Order”), relating to workers’ compensation benefits. The Order creates a rebuttable presumption that an employee who tests positive for COVID-19 contracted it within the course and scope of employment for purposes of workers compensation if the employee tests positive within 14 days after performing labor or services at the place of employment and at the employer’s direction. The day of performing labor must have occurred on or after March 19, 2020. The presumption will not be created if the labor was performed at the employee’s residence. Thus, the presumption may not apply in a situation where the employee works remotely. This presumption remains in place for 60 days following the Order, or until July 5, 2020.

Governor Newsom did not elaborate on what employers must establish to rebut the presumption,  but at the Governor’s press conference, the Chief Deputy Director of the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) stated the DIR would be issuing additional guidance on the order in the coming days.

The Order helps facilitate employees’ access to workers’ compensation benefits for medical treatment and disability benefits. An employee who is eligible for benefits under this Order is eligible for all workers’ compensation benefits, including full hospital, surgical, medical treatment, disability indemnity, and death benefits.

Under the Order, an employee must use all available paid sick leave that the employee received specifically in response to COVID-19 before any temporary disability benefits are due and payable. The Order also eliminates any waiting period for COVID-19 temporary disability benefits.

For assistance in understanding how this Order may impact your business, please feel free to contact the Downey Brand attorney you regularly work with, or any of the attorneys throughout our Firm.