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California legislature passes COVID-19 presumption

September 3, 2020 · Public Policy & Regulatory Affairs Team

In the late hours of the legislative session, the California Assembly and Senate reached a compromise and passed a COVID-19 workers’ compensation presumption bill. After considering several various pieces of presumption legislation, the Legislature passed SB 1159, which creates a presumption and addresses the impact of COVID-19 on the workers’ compensation system. It is expected to be signed by the governor. 

The bill creates a rebuttable COVID-19 presumption for first responders, health care workers and other employees running through 2022. In a slight difference from several other states, the presumption is not just applicable to first responders and health care workers, but also other types of employees where an “outbreak” (as defined) has occurred at their place of employment. Additionally the legislation requires a positive test or diagnosis within 14 days after the employee performed labor or services at the employee’s place of employment at the employer’s direction.

Rebuttal presumption

The legislation, while thorough, does allow employers to rebut the presumption by measures which include, but are not limited to, evidence of measures in place to prevent transmission of COVID-19 and evidence of the employee’s non-occupational exposure to COVID-19. The bill also fully codifies the Governor’s Executive Order issued in May.  

As states continue to address the impact of COVID on the workplace, our Public Policy & Regulatory Affairs team will monitor developing public policies impacting our workers’ compensation clients.  For more information on the ever-changing policy landscape, please visit our COVID-19 resource webpage. 


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