On June 4th, 2021, The Press Democrat reported that the California State Senate has rejected a bill that would create long-term reforms to the workers’ compensation insurance system that would have made it easier for some frontline health care employees to qualify for benefits. In this article, our California workers’ compensation attorney proposed an overview of the reform proposal recently rejected by state lawmakers.
In response to the emergency conditions created by the COVID-19 pandemic, California Governor Gavin Newsom authored an Executive Order that created a rebuttable workers’ comp presumption for many health care employees and frontline workers.
As a general rule, workers have a duty to prove that their injury or illness arose in the course and scope of their employment. The temporary Executive Order shifted the burden onto employers, for health care employees filing COVID-19 related workers’ comp claims.
In September of last year, California lawmakers passed a bill creating an official legal COVID-19 presumption for health care employees and frontline workers. As drafted, that law is currently scheduled to expire sometime in 2023.
At least at this time, the California State Senate has decided to keep the current legislative schedule in place and allow the COVID-19 rebuttable presumption to expire in 2023. That part of the bill may yet still end up being extended, depending on many factors, including how the virus spreads over the next several months given the uptake in vaccinations.
The key thing to know about the workers’ compensation reform bill that was rejected by the California State Senate is that it would have gone much further than making the COVID-19 presumption permanent. Indeed, the law would have also added several other rebuttable presumptions for front line health workers and hospital employees. It would have assumed that the following conditions are work-related impairments:
- Certain cancers;
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD);
- Some respiratory illnesses; and
- Many muscle or ligament injuries.
The law was strongly opposed by many employers in the industry and business groups. They countered that the proposal would have resulted in a sharp increase in workers’ compensation premiums. Given the nature of the California legislative schedule, the bill no longer has a chance to pass this year. Though, similar to other bills that have failed, it could come back (in some form) in the next legislative session.
Joseph C. Yrulegui is an experienced and results-driven workers’ compensation attorney. Mr. Yrulegui has the skills, knowledge, and expertise to protect your legal rights and get you justice. If you have any questions about workers’ comp claims, we are available to help. Contact us today for immediate assistance. With an office in Fresno, we represent injured workers throughout the San Joaquin Valley, including in Bakersfield. Clovis. Modesto, Stockton, Visalia, Merced, and Tulare.