COVID-19 is like an unrelenting tsunami, continuously hitting cities and states across the country day after day. Recent estimates conclude that confirmed cases in the U.S. now exceed 18 million.
Sadly, California is one of the states with the highest number of documented positive COVID cases. Workers in various industries have contracted the deadly virus and are missing work.
Fortunately, a workers’ compensation bill, signed by California Governor Newson this past September, provides protections and benefits for employees who get COVID on the job.
Eligibility for employees working alongside sick patients
Police officers, firefighters, health care workers or anyone working around potentially sick individuals are automatically eligible for benefits if they test positive for COVID. The new law does not require these employees to prove they contracted the virus while working.
Eligibility for employees in other industries
However, the law details specific criteria that must be met for workers in other industries who get sick from COVID and wish to receive benefits.
Most notably – an “outbreak” must have occurred in their working environment for eligibility.
What classifies as an “outbreak?”
For employees who work for an entity with 5-100 employees, an outbreak has occurred if at least 4 employees get sick in the same working environment within a two-week period.
For workers who are employed at a company with more than 100 employees, at outbreak has occurred if at least 4 percent of employees working in the same location within a two-week period become ill.
Similar to frontline workers, these workers also do not have to prove they contracted the virus while working on the job to be eligible for California workers’ comp benefits.
A win for California employees
The new bill has provided relief and a lifeline for many California workers who have been worried about how they will support their families in the event they get COVID and need to stay home to recover or quarantine. In fact, according to the Insurance Journal, a widely known insurance trade publication, one in every nine workers’ compensation claims in California today are COVID-19 related.
Many workers have also found relief knowing the law protects them from being fired in the event they file a COVID-related workers’ comp claim.
It remains to be seen whether the uptick will continue. As of now, the law will stay in effect until January 1, 2024 for all workers except first responders.