Workers’ Compensation: SB 1159 establishes a rebuttable workers’ compensation presumption for workers that contract COVID-19 under certain conditions by first, codifying Newsom’s workers’ compensation executive order for workers who contracted COVID-19 between March 19, 2020, and July 5, 2020, and, second, creating a rebuttable presumption for first responders and health care personnel who contract COVID-19 after July 6, 2020.

SB 1159 also creates an “outbreak” presumption for employers with five or more employees, covering workers who test positive for COVID-19 during an “outbreak” at the employee’s place of employment. The statute specifically defines “outbreak” as any of the following:

  • If the employer has 100 employees or fewer at a specific place of employment, four employees test positive for COVID-19 within two weeks.
  • If the employer has more than 100 employees at a specific place of employment, 4 percent of the number of employees test positive within two weeks.
  • Public authorities order the place of employment closed due to a risk of COVID-19 infection.

Employers have limited time to reject claims under the new law.

Additionally, when an employer with five or more employees “knows or reasonably should know” that an employee tests positive for COVID-19, SB 1159 requires the employer to inform their workers’ compensation carrier and provide specified information within three business days. SB 1159 was an urgency measure that went into effect September 17, 2020.