What to know about California SB 1159

Masha Keylin
Director of Marketing

On September 17, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 1159 into law.  In addition to codifying the Governor’s Executive Order N-62-20, which established a time-limited rebuttable presumption for workers who are diagnosed with COVID-19, the bill extends the presumption to January 1, 2023 and maintains the narrow time period during which an employer can rebut the presumption. 

The bill separates the presumption of compensability based on two new categories of workers:

Firefighter, peace officer, and a broadly-defined set of health care professionals:

Businesses that have more than 5 employees: statutory duration, benefits owed, testing, and the disputable nature of the presumption are the same, but they are key differences:

Important Reporting Requirements

Beginning on September 17, 2020, when an employer “knows or reasonably should know that an employee has tested positive for COVID-19” the employer must report to its Workers Compensation carrier the following information within three business days, via e-mail or fax: 

There are separate reporting requirements for positive tests between July 6, 2020 and up to today. If an employer is aware of an employee who has tested positive during this period, the employer must report the information in the first three bullet points above, via e-mail or fax, to its Workers Compensation carrier within 30 business days of the date this legislation took effect. However, instead of the last bullet point, the employer must report the highest number of employees who reported to work at each of the employee’s specific places of employment on any work date between July 6, 2020 and the date SB 1159 takes effect.

The Workers Compensation carrier will use the above information to determine whether an outbreak has occurred. Following these reporting requirements is crucial as SB 1159 institutes a penalty of $10,000 for an employer that “intentionally submits false or misleading information or fails to submit information.”

The impact of the Bill on the COVID-19 Workers Compensation claims and Workers Compensation generally in California are not yet known, but G2 will continue to monitor these impacts and guide our clients through these challenging times. For complete details including definitions, guidance, and employer reporting rules, please refer to the bill text and speak with your G2 advisor. 

Commercial Insurance, News, Workers Compensation