The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has upended lives and disrupted a number of industries. The legal world – specifically the workers’ compensation space – is not immune and has been affected by a number of bills, now laws, in California.
The root of these legislative moves has been: to what extent can employers be held liable for a worker’s exposure to COVID-19? The answer, for now, has come in the form of two laws: Assembly Bill 685 and Senate Bill 1159. In an effort to disambiguate these laws, I have outlined them. Feel free to download the outlines and contact me with any questions.
Signed by Governor Gavin Newsom on September 17, 2020, AB 685 allows the state to track COVID-19 cases at workplaces more closely. The law further allows CAL/OSHA to expand its use of Stop Work Orders to help slow the spread of the virus in situations where workplace transmission has been deemed hazardous or imminent.
Also signed into law on September 17, 2020, SB 1159 creates a rebuttable presumption of workers’ compensation liability for COVID-19 illness claims. For now, the presumption is in effect until January 1, 2023.