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New California Requirement Over COVID-19 Case Reporting To Workers’ Comp Insurers Has Employers Busy
By Lonce Lamonte - October 22, 2020

Concern is up over a new California requirement that employers must report any COVID-19 cases within their employee realm, whether work related or not, to their workers’ compensation carriers. 

Employers are burdened enough by requirement levels from even before the coronavirus era.  Now, concerns that employers will struggle even more to comply has come from SB1159 which California governor Gavin Newsom signed into law September 17th 2020.  It creates a path for workers’ testing positive to COVID 19 to file a workers’ compensation claim if some elements are found like an outbreak of the virus in the workplace.

This overall scenario might be too taxing as it creates even more obligations for employers. 

Michael Sullivan, workers’ compensation defense attorney and lead partner of California firm Michael Sullivan and Associates, has told Business Insurance magazine that even if a claim isn’t filed, employers have to report every time there is a positive COVID-19 test.  The details in the reporting are great, such as how many employees are present at each work site.  So, it’s a huge reporting burden. 

Southern California workers’ compensation defense attorney Jeffrey Adelson, from Adelson McLean, told Business Insurance that the average employer is not going to be aware of the tracking requirement.  This is his greatest concern. 

He continued with expressing there seems to be a lag with employers knowing what to do. 

Adelson indicated the new legislation won’t help if insurers and brokers don’t advise their clients of the requirements.  The tracking requirement, which come with a $10,000 fine for each incident of failing to comply, states when an employer “knows or reasonably should know” that an employee has tested positive for COVID-19, it must report it to its workers’ compensation insurer within three business days.

The report must include such details as the date the employee tested positive, the specific address or addresses of the employee’s place or places of employment during the 14-day period proceeding the positive test, and the highest number of employees who reported to work in the 45 days proceeding the last day the employee worked in the workplace. 

For employers whose employees visit multiple work sites, the paperwork can be overwhelming.

On a positive note, some lawyers express how the now administrative burdens can encourage employers to take the necessary safety precautions to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks.  Employers will hopefully catch on as they have with other requirements that have come into play with the pandemic. 

California employers are becoming aware of steps they have to take when their employees report positive COVID-19 tests.  The positive point of view is this will encourage employers to follow safety protocols. 

Under the new law, an outbreak is defined as four or more cases at work sites with 100 or fewer workers or 4% of a workforce at a work site with more than 100 employees.

Sedgwick has launched a COVID-19 intake portal to simplify the tracking requirement.  This cloud based portal is an extension of existing claims reporting software that enables employers to create reports on COVID-19 cases whether they become workers’ compensation claims or not. 

CorVel Corp has also introduced software to facilitate tracking for employers. 

by journalist Lonce Lamonte, lonce@adjustercom.com


 
 

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