Newsom announces expanded workers’ comp for COVID-19 claims

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As California enters the next phase in reopening the state, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order Wednesday that will help workers who contract COVID-19 while working to access workers’ compensation benefits.

The order aims to simplify the workers’ compensation claims process and creates a time-limited rebuttable presumption for obtaining the benefits applicable to those who must work outside of their homes during the stay-at-home directive. 

“If you’ve tested positive with C-19, with COVID-19, by a physician, then you are eligible for this workers’ (compensation) benefit. It can only be rebutted by your employer but under strict criteria. 

“This is a way of providing support to our critical workers that are essential in our capacity, not only to meet the needs of the people today but as we begin to enter into this new phase and start to reopen the economy,” Newsom said during his Wednesday briefing. 

Those eligible will have the rebuttable presumption if they tested positive for COVID-19 or were diagnosed with the virus and confirmed by a positive test within 14 days of performing labor or service at a workplace after the stay-at-home order was issued on March 19. The presumption will stay in place for 60 days after the issuance of the directive, according to a news release from the governor’s office. 

The order comes after California expanded paid sick leave in April for workers in the food sector, such as grocery workers and those in agriculture, which hadn’t included workers in other sectors deemed essential. 

“The folks we rely on the most, in many of our first responders, firefighters and paramedics, as an example, they were left out of the original sick leave announcements from the federal government, and were not part of our previous announcements, until today,” he said. 

The governor added the workers’ compensation presumption is vital so people can feel confident and comfortable as the state looks to open once again some lesser-at-risk businesses by Friday. L.A. County officials also announced plans Wednesday to begin easing their “Safer at Home” restrictions. 

Newsom also signed an executive order that waives penalties for property taxes paid after April 10 for taxpayers who demonstrated financial challenges brought forth by the coronavirus pandemic through May 6, 2021, which will apply to residential properties and small businesses. The order also extends the Business Personal Property Statements deadline to May 31 to avoid penalties. 

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