For months we’ve heard hospital employers question the obvious: that hospital workers who became COVID-19 positive likely got it at work where we were exposed to COVID-19 positive patients and coworkers, sometimes without proper PPE. That led many of us to believe that if we get sick we’ll have to argue with our employers over where we contracted the virus.
That all changed on May 6 when Governor Newsom signed an Executive Order that’s a major victory for any of us who test positive for or are diagnosed with COVID-19. This order places the burden of proof on the employer to establish that a worker contracted COVID-19 outside of the workplace — rather than placing the burden of proof on us.
Under this Executive Order, any essential worker who tests positive for or is diagnosed with COVID-19 is presumed to have sustained a workplace injury if they meet these four requirements:
- The worker tests positive or is diagnosed with COVID-19 within 14 days after the day they worked at their place of employment under their employer’s direction;
- The day the worker performed work at their place of employment under their employer’s direction was on or after March 19, 2020;
- The worker’s place of employment is not the worker’s home or residence; and
- The diagnosis of COVID-19 is given by a physician who holds a physician or surgeon license issued by the California Medical Board and the diagnosis is confirmed by further testing within 30 days of the date of diagnosis.
If an employer does not or cannot demonstrate that the worker contracted COVID-19 outside of the workplace, then the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board is bound to find that the worker has suffered a workplace injury and qualifies for workers’ compensation benefits. This legal presumption is in effect until July 5, 2020.
The Executive Order also states that workers who have paid sick leave benefits specifically available in response to COVID-19 must first exhaust those benefits before any temporary disability benefits are payable.
Click here to file a workers compensation claim.