2020 was a punishing year in every respect. Not one area of life was left unchanged by the coronavirus pandemic, and the unprecedented challenges it brought have left industries reeling. Much has been said in particular about changes to working life, with commentators theorizing that the 9-5 office life is a thing of the past. While millions of Americans have been working from home for much of the year – zoom calls their new reality – countless others have been working frontline jobs in grocery stores, health and social services, delivery, transportation, and many more. These workplaces became the ‘front line’ where the battle against the virus was fought. Safe working conditions became the leading issue of the day. For those of us advocating for workers who have become injured and ill at work, this was a moment of historical significance. The fresh issues created by the pandemic have made worker’s compensation newly fraught. New questions have been raised, such as compensation benefits for workers who may or may not have contracted COVID-19 at work, the rise of chronic worker burnout during the pandemic, and employer responsibility towards health and safety in the age of remote working. Tracking these stories will tell us a lot about how workplaces will operate in the future.
Contracting COVID-19 at Work
The first and most significant worker compensation issue of 2020 was the obvious one: what compensation is due if you catch COVID-19 at work?
Going to work became a newly risky proposition this year, and without the assurance of careful safety measures, many employees feared contracting COVID-19 at work. Thankfully for those in our area, California law had some of the broadest protections for workers in the country. Back in May, California Governor Gavin Newsom made sweeping changes to worker’s compensation provisions. His executive order extended protections to employees working outside the home who contracted COVID-19 between March 19 and July 5. This order applied across California during the statewide shelter-in-place order.
The order expired on July 5, but new legal protections came in September, relaxing the burden of proof for workers who have contracted COVID-19 to receive compensation. Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill 1159 into law on September 17 and it immediately came into effect. Under this law, should workers test positive for COVID-19, there is a legal presumption that the exposure took place at work. Unless employers dispute this claim, this injury will qualify for worker’s compensation benefits.
As it is almost impossible to prove when and where someone contracted this airborne, infectious virus, the legal presumption established by this law is incredibly important. With this law, the authorities made it clear it would brook little squabbling from employers trying to shirk responsibilities. With this in mind, Californian workers should absolutely claim the compensation they are due.
Contact The Work Injury Advocate Today
If you or a loved one has caught COVID-19 at work or else suffered an injury, illness, or psychological damage as a result of irresponsible workplace practices, then get in touch with us and we can guide you through your next steps. You won’t face any upfront costs, and we will work hard to secure your maximum compensation.
Based in Tarzana, CA, we bring our extensive experience and exceptional client service to clients throughout Southern California, including Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, San Diego, Ventura, and Santa Barbara counties. Call us on (323) 364-2409 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.