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California bill would extend COVID-19 order for essential workers

California lawmakers passed legislation late Monday that would extend Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive making it easier for essential workers to receive workers compensation if they contact COVID-19 on the job.

S.B. 1159 passed the state’s Assembly 69-4 and the Senate 30-8 with amendments. The bill first passed the Senate in June.

The legislation states that it will be presumed that workers who acquire COVID-19 within 14 days of performing labor or services at the employer’s place of business and at the employer’s direction were exposed to the virus at the workplace unless rebutted by the employer with evidence. Workers must be diagnosed by a licensed physician and have a positive COVID-19 test or a serologic test within 30 days of the date of diagnosis.

Employees who have paid sick leave are required to exhaust those benefits before any temporary disability benefits will be paid. Employers have 30 days to reject any COVID-19 claims; claims not rebutted within that time frame are presumed to be compensable.

Workers covered by this legislation include firefighters, police officers, fire and rescue coordinators, health care workers who provide direct patient care or custodians at health facilities in contact with COVID-19 patients, nurses, emergency medical technicians and in-home care workers.

The bill also requires that the state’s Commission on Health and Safety and Workers Compensation conduct a study on the impact that COVID-19 claims have had on the workers compensation system in the state and deliver the final report to the governor no later than April 30, 2022.

If signed into law, the legislation would take effect immediately and remain in effect until Jan. 1, 2023.

This article was first published by Business Insurance.

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