Millions of California’s essential workers can breathe a little easier now that Governor Newsom has signed an executive order protecting employees who contract COVID-19 on the job.
Signed last Wednesday, May 6, the executive order establishes a rebuttable presumption for all of California’s essential employees, entitling them to workers’ compensation benefits should they contract the coronavirus at work.
“We are removing a burden for workers on the front lines, who risk their own health and safety to deliver critical services to our fellow Californians, so that they can access benefits, and be able to focus on their recovery,” said Governor Newsom in a press release announcing the executive order. “Workers’ compensation is a critical piece to reopening the state and it will help workers get the care they need to get healthy, and in turn, protect public health.”
The enactment of the executive order is the culmination of a weeks-long effort by a coalition of labor groups, including the California Labor Federation, California Professional Firefighters and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, that had asked the Governor at the onset of the pandemic to protect essential workers by ensuring they can receive benefits and prompt medical treatment through the workers’ compensation system should they fall ill.
While CAAA, acting as a technical expert, worked with the labor groups that had advocated for a conclusive presumption to protect essential workers during this public health crisis, knowing this was the best route to avoid unnecessary friction and litigation on COVID-19 claims, the executive order was ultimately a compromise and should be celebrated as a step in the right direction for workers making it easier for them to obtain the benefits they rightly deserve.
The presumption will be applied retroactively beginning March 19, 2020, the date of Governor Newsom’s first shelter-in-place order, and expire 60 days from the signing of the executive order on May 6.
CAAA released a statement thanking the governor for his actions following the signing of the order.
“This order provides immediate relief to all essential workers who have been or will be diagnosed with COVID-19 during the covered period and removes a tremendous amount of doubt in workers' minds about medical treatment and supplemental income should they become ill,” the statement read in part. “We thank Governor Newsom for supporting our frontline heroes.”
This is a win for California workers, and we again thank the governor for acting in their best interest.
To read the governor’s press release, click here.
To read the executive order, click here.