Legislative Update: Amended COVID-19 Presumption Bills Remain Under Review as California Senate Closes Due to Coronavirus

The three bills under review to establish workers’ compensation presumptions for COVID-19 cases are still pending discussion, with more proposed amendments expected and negotiations anticipated to continue leading up to closure of the legislature’s 2020 session on Monday, August 30th. Discussion of the bills stalled when Wednesday’s floor session was canceled and the Senate closed temporarily due to a member testing positive for COVID-19.

Assembly Bill 196 (AB 196), as amended, now provides a 30-day “disputable” or rebuttable presumption for non-public safety workers or healthcare workers. The presumption would begin March 1, 2020. Assembly Bill 664 (AB 664) has been amended to sunset on 7/1/20204, with it’s presumption covering as far back as 1/1/2020. This bill also carries a 30-day period for the employer to dispute the claim. Senate Bill 1159 (SB 1159) has been amended to re-include the so-called “5 and 5” provision, which triggers the presumption if five or more employees test positive over two weeks (for employers with 5-100 employees), or 5% of the workforce for larger employers. Such employers would have 45 days to review the claim. Interestingly, the amendments to SB 1159 do specify that “evidence relevant to controverting the presumption may include, but are not limited to, evidence of measures in place to reduce potential transmission of COVID-19 in the employee’s place of employment and evidence of an employee’s nonoccupational risks of COVID-19 infection.” The sunset date for the presumption has also been moved up one year, to 1/1/2023.

SRTK will continue to monitor this development and provide updates as available. Please contact us with any questions about what this may mean for you.