Advocacy Alert April 22, 2020

The Chamber needs your help! Governor Newsom is considering an Emergency Order that would, among other items, presume workers’ comp coverage for any workers who are not working from home.

 

Among the proposals being considered:

Creating a conclusive presumption – i.e., no ability to dispute that an injury was work related – for anyone deemed “essential” on a very expansive list applying during the COVID-19 response time, including all farm workers, restaurant workers, workers in food processing, workers in transport, laundry services, cannabis shops, and health care workers. This would allow millions of workers in the state of California to get workers’ compensation funds from employers regardless of whether they contracted COVID-19 at work or otherwise.

  • Extending the definition of an injury to “exposure” to COVID-19 even without symptoms or actual illness. This would create payments from business for individuals with no injury at all.
  • Adding additional costs to business for temporary housing to quarantine workers recommended for quarantine, regardless of actual illness.

The ability to have a presumption of injury arise, without any formal testing, if a doctor of any type able to treat in workers’ compensation (chiropractors, orthopedists, podiatrists), concludes someone has COVID-19. This is very similar to the primary treating presumption that tripled rates for business in the early 2000s.

Several of our members have heard from their trade shocking cost estimates for this proposal, at a time when many businesses remain closed. The Workers Compensation Insurance Rating Board (WCIRB) has estimated the cost of a COVID-19 conclusive presumption for essential workers could range from $2.2 billion to $33.6 billion, depending on the scope of the workforce covered. WCIRB estimates the mid-range of their cost estimate to be $11.2 billion, or 61% of the annual cost of the workers’ comp system prior to COVID-19.

What can we do?

Call the Governor’s office IMMEDIATELY at 916-445-2841.Let him know that small businesses are already weakened by the pandemic and this action would be catastrophic in adding additional costs to employers struggling to keep workers on their payroll. A move like this would result in further job losses. Also, contact your local legislators and let them know the impacts of a proposal of this type.

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