New Laws have been passed in California to protect workers from the on-going coronavirus pandemic. The new laws, namely SB1159 and AB685, focused on improving workers compensation services and allowing employees who have contracted Covid-19 to assume they were infected at work until proven otherwise. Governor Gavin Newsom believes that these “two laws will help California workers stay safe at work and get the support they need if they are exposed to Covid-19”. Each bill works as follows:
Senate Bill No. 1159 aims to broaden the access of healthcare workers, first responders, as well as other employees that contract Covid-19 within 2 weeks of a workplace outbreak to workers compensation benefits. According to the law, a “workplace outbreak” happens when small companies (100 employees or less) have at least four employees test positive, larger companies (more than 100 employees) have 4% of their employees test positive, or when a mandated authority orders a place to be shut down due to the proliferation of the coronavirus.
Assembly Bill No. 685 makes it necessary for employers to report any instances of Covid-19 among their workforce in an immediate manner. It also requires employers to inform all permanent and temporary employees (including their unions and attorneys) that have been in close contact with any Covid-positive worker about their exposure, as well as any related employee benefits they qualify for, within one day. Furthermore, any worker possibly exposed must be duly notified of any existing safety protocols and necessary precautionary measures to prevent further spread of the virus.
These bills are the latest among a line of other efforts at legislation meant to protect Californian employees during this pandemic which has affected millions of people all over America. Previously, Governor Newsom had passed Assembly Bill No. 1867 and Senate Bill No. 1383, which extended 80 hours of paid sick leave for health workers, first responders, and workers employed in companies with more than 500 or more employees and obliged smaller companies to give up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave for reasons that were left previously uncovered.
Make sure you are up to speed with all the unfolding news and updates relevant to workers compensation in California during the spread of Covid-19 by staying tuned – and remember, you can rely on TukkoMed to assist you with all your QME needs!