On May 6, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-62-20 establishing a rebuttable presumption that an employee who tests positive for or was diagnosed with COVID-19 contracted the virus on the job. This presumption covers dates of injury from March 19, 2020 through July 5, 2020. However, to qualify for this presumption, the following four conditions must be met:
- 1) The injured worker tested positive for or was diagnosed with COVID-19 within fourteen (14) days from the last day the injured worker performed labor or services at the employee’s place of employment at the employer’s direction;
- 2) The last day the injured worker worked at the employer’s direction at his or her place of employment was on or after March 19, 2020;
- 3) The place of employment was not the injured worker’s home or residence; and
- 4) The COVID-19 diagnosis was made by a physician who holds a physician and surgeon license issued by the California Medical Board. The diagnosis must be confirmed within thirty (30) days by further testing.
Governor Newsom modified Labor Code Section 5402 creating a thirty (30) day time period for Defendants to accept or deny compensability for the alleged COVID-19 illness. If not denied within the first thirty (30) days, the COVID-19 illness is presumed compensable but can be rebutted with evidence discovered after the thirty (30) day period. If the illness is found compensable, the injured worker’s paid sick leave benefits must be completely exhausted before temporary disability benefits are due and payable.