As Employees Return to Work, What Should Employers Consider About COVID-19 Workers’ Compensation Claims?
As essential employers continue operations and other businesses prepare for re-opening, many are asking about the new executive order in California related to COVID-19 and workers’ compensation. Under this new order, it is presumed that any employee who is diagnosed or tests positive for COVID-19 from March 19 until July 5 is entitled to workers’ compensation coverage for his/her recovery from the virus if the diagnosis happens within 14 days of any date that the employee worked at the employee’s place of employment. The presumption is rebuttable, meaning that an employer can provide evidence that the employee’s exposure to COVID-19 did not arise out of or occur in the course of employment.
The best way to reduce transmission of the virus and therefore reduce the likelihood that any employees will need to make such workers’ compensation claims is to follow all guidelines to safely reopen and operate. The CDC’s recently-issued guidance for re-opening includes a helpful tool to guide employers through establishing a plan to clean and disinfect at their workplace, online here.
State and local public health orders offer different guidance for different jurisdictions. San Diego County requires businesses to implement certain mandatory safety measures as part of a Safe Reopening Plan and post the business’ plan at each public entrance. The county has made a template for businesses to use to create their plan which is available online here, and San Diego businesses should enact such a plan. Compliance with the plan and CDC guidance will protect individuals and best limit potential workers’ compensation claims.