California Workers’ Compensation Senate Bill 1159 Summary

On 9/17/20, Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill 1159 into law. SB 1159 follows the original Executive Order from the Governor, which is now known as LC 3212.86. The original Order addresses the presumption of COVID-19 conditions, as outlined below.

  • COVID-19 is presumed to be work-related if an employee worked at the employer’s place of business between 3/19/20 and 7/5/20, AND
  • The employee tested positive for COVID-19 within 14 days after working at the employer’s place of business, OR
  • The employee was diagnosed with COVID-19 within 14 days, and the diagnosis is confirmed through testing within 30 days of receiving the diagnosis.
  • Paid sick leave in accordance with the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) must be exhausted before any lost wages benefits will be due.

Senate Bill 1159 Summary

Effective Date: 7/6/2020
Remain in effect until 1/1/2023

Presumption for First Responders and Healthcare Workers – LC 3212.87

  • The employee must test positive.
  • The employee must have worked at the employer’s place of business on or after 7/6/20 AND tested positive within 14 days of working.
  • First Responders & Healthcare Workers defined as police officers, firefighters, peace officers, employees who provide direct patient care, custodial employees in contact with COVID-19 patients and works at a health facility, EMT’s, employees who provide direct patient care for home health agency and providers of in-home supportive services, when provided outside their own home or residence.
  • Employer Action Items:
    • Provide the employee with workers’ compensation claim form DWC-1
    • Report claim to the insurance carrier
    • Provide sick leave benefits pursuant to FFCRA

Outbreak for All Other Employees (not First Responders or Healthcare) –
LC 3212.88

  • The employer must have 5 or more employees
  • COVID-19 is presumed work-related if
    • The employee worked at the employer’s place of business on or after 7/6/20 AND
    • The employee tested positive within 14 days after working at the employer’s place of business AND
    • The positive test occurred during an “outbreak” at the employer’s location
  • Outbreak defined as a COVID-19 occurrence at a specific employment location within a 14 day period AND meets one of the following:
    • If an employer has 100 employees or less at a specific location and four or more employees test positive for COVID-19; or
    • If an employer has more than 100 employees at a specific location and 4% of the employees test positive for COVID-19; or
    • The local public health department, State Department of Public Health, Division of Occupational Safety and Health, or school superintendent orders the specific place of employment closed due to a risk of infection with COVID-19.
      • Note: An employee’s home is NOT considered a specific place of employment unless the employee provides home health care services to a client at the employee’s home.
  • Employer Action Items:
    • Report all employees with positive test results, whether work-related or not, to workers’ compensation carrier, via email or fax, within three business days.
      • Provide employee reference number (not their name)
      • Date employee tested positive, which is the date the specimen was collected for testing
      • Addresses of employee’s place(s) of employment during 14 day period prior to employees positive test
      • The highest number of employees who reported to work at the employee’s specific place of employment in the 45 day period before the last day the COVID-19 positive employee worked at each place of employment
      • If the employee believes to be work- related, provide the employee with workers’ compensation claim form DWC-1
      • The Labor Commissioner may impose a civil penalty up to $10,000 if the employer “intentionally submits false or misleading information or fails to submit information.”

This summary is for reference only and should not be construed as legal advice. Read SB 1159 in its entirety on the California Legislative Information website. Please consult your employment attorney for interpretation of how SB 1159 will impact your business.

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