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Executive order facilitates workers' compensation benefits for COVID-19 exposure

What does it mean for California dentists?

June 10, 2020 8099

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted individuals and businesses globally and has affected each market individually. Workers’ compensation is no exception, and Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed executive orders that may affect the dental practice. Additionally, the California Legislature has introduced several bills that could redefine how employees access workers’ compensation benefits for COVID-19.

The California Dental Association and The Dentists Insurance Company have partnered to provide this legislative update and explain changes in workers’ compensation.

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted individuals and businesses globally and has affected each market individually. Workers’ compensation is no exception, and Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed executive orders that may affect the dental practice.

Additionally, the California Legislature has introduced several bills that could redefine how employees access workers’ compensation benefits for COVID-19.

Gov. Newsom on March 19 issued a stay-at-home order to preserve the public health and safety of all Californians. However, some sectors were required to continue to work during the pandemic to maintain California’s essential critical infrastructure. These ECI workers were identified by the Department of Public Health because their functions are vital to the continuity of the state’s operations in the public health, safety, economic, and national security capacities.

Because the governor recognized the risk of contracting COVID-19 for ECI workers, as well as for any employee who was required to continue working in their place of business, on May 6 he signed another executive order to facilitate workers’ compensation benefits for those who have occupational exposure to COVID-19.

Determining presumption of work-related exposure to COVID-19

The following provisions apply to determine whether the presumption of a work-related COVID-19 exposure exists:

Any COVID-19-related illness of an employee shall be presumed to arise out of and in the course of the employment for purposes of awarding workers’ compensation benefits if all of the following requirements are satisfied: 
a) The employee tested positive for or was diagnosed with COVID-19 within 14 days after a day that the employee performed labor or services at the employee’s place of employment at the employer’s direction;
b) The day of supposed exposure to COVID-19 was on or after March 19, 2020;
c) The employee’s place of employment was not the employee’s home or residence; and 
d) A diagnosis of COVID-19 can only be provided by a physician who holds a physician or surgeon license issued by the California Medical Board; a diagnosis must be confirmed by a test within 30 days of the date of the diagnosis.

The order expires approximately on July 5, 2020, or 60 days from the date the executive order was signed.

What does the governor’s executive order mean for you as an employer?

  • If your employee was reporting to work any time from March 19, 2020, to present, became ill due to COVID-19 and believes they got sick while performing their duties at work, you must inform them of their rights to file a workers’ compensation claim.
  • If your employee was reporting to work prior to March 19, 2020, and tested positive for COVID-19 and was unable to work, they may also be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
  • If your employee wants to file a workers’ compensation claim, provide them with a Workers’ Compensation Claim Form (DWC 1) & Notice of Potential Eligibility form within 24 hours of notice from your employee.
  • Contact your workers’ compensation carrier for more information on filing the claim, and where to direct your employee’s medical care.

CDA monitoring workers’ compensation-related bills for impact on insurance industry

In addition to the governor’s actions, the California Legislature has proposed several bills related to COVID-19 and workers’ compensation benefits. Some of the proposals focus on workers who are facing the highest risk due to COVID-19, including front-line health care workers and first responders, while others more broadly include all workers and require coverage if they are exposed to COVID-19 during the course of employment.

While at face value the bills appear beneficial to workers, if not carefully crafted they could also come at a detrimental cost to the insurance industry and ultimately hurt workers and businesses. 

CDA is carefully monitoring these and other bills that would affect the insurance industry and is working collectively with other stakeholders and associations to ensure dentists’ needs are considered and voiced to governmental bodies. The discussions will occur over the next months.

If you have any questions about the governor’s executive order or proposed legislation, please contact CDA Public Affairs at [email protected] You may also visit the California Department of Industrial Relations’ questions and answers about the order. If you are a TDIC policyholder and have questions about your workers’ compensation policy, please contact TDIC Insurance Solutions by email ([email protected]) or phone at 1.800.733.0633.