With many workers still holding the fort in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and risking exposure to the disease on a daily basis, labor groups and CAAA are working to ensure they’re protected should they contract the coronavirus as a result of their working conditions.
On March 19, the California Labor Federation sent a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom with concerns for worker safety and included a call for a workers’ compensation presumption that a COVID-19 exposure or positive test is employment-related for essential workers.
“Workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic put their lives at risk just doing their jobs. If they are infected with COVID-19, they should be covered by workers’ compensation,” the letter stated.
Subsequently, the United Food and Commercial Workers and other labor groups reached out to CAAA to help in drafting language for a possible executive order to be issued by the governor.
The approach is to enact a conclusive presumption rather than rebuttable presumption to cut through litigation and red tape for ALL of the workers that continue to work during this crisis and are therefore exposed to COVID-19 on a daily basis.
The presumption would cover employees deemed essential by Governor Newsom’s March 19 executive order and any employees deemed essential thereafter, as well as disaster service workers.
Full hospital, surgical, medical treatment, disability indemnity and death benefits would be covered in the event that a worker contracts COVID-19 while on the job.
The coalition of labor groups is hoping the governor will have the power to issue the executive order once the language is in his hands. Should he not have the power to do so, the coalition will draft the presumption as a statute.