Californians who contract COVID-19 at work get additional help under new law

September 17, 2020

Los Angeles Times
By Melody Gutierrez

SACRAMENTO —  California will relax the burden of proof to receive workers’ compensation benefits for some employees who contract COVID-19 on the job under a bill Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Thursday.

Senate Bill 1159 by Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) makes it easier for police, firefighters and other essential employees who contract COVID-19 while working to be covered under the state’s workers’ compensation program. In other workplaces — both public and private — the new law presumes employees caught the novel coronavirus on the job if there is an outbreak at their worksite, ensuring those employees are eligible to have their medical bills and lost wages covered.

Because lawmakers passed the law as an urgency bill, it will go into effect immediately, bypassing the typical Jan. 1 start date for most laws.

Newsom said during a bill signing ceremony streamed online that the new law makes clear the need to “prioritize our workforce, our workers, our frontline essential workforce that we pay a lot of lip service to but, often, we don’t back up.”