The Association joined several other agricultural organizations in expressing opposition to a potential Governor’s Executive Order to address COVID-19 under workers compensation that could place a massive economic burden on California businesses even in cases where it had nothing to do with work. We are hearing that Governor Newsom is considering the following:
1) Creating a conclusive presumption – i.e., no ability to dispute that an injury was work related – for anyone deemed “essential” on the attached, very expansive list applying during the COVID-19 response time, including all farm workers, restaurant workers, workers in food processing, workers in transport, laundry services, cannabis shops, and health care workers. This would allow millions of workers in the state of California to get workers’ compensation funds from employers regardless of whether they contracted COVID-19 at work or otherwise.
2) Extending the definition of an injury to “exposure” to COVID-19 even without symptoms or actual illness. This would create payments from business for individuals with no injury at all.
3) Adding additional costs to business for temporary housing to quarantine workers recommended for quarantine, regardless of actual illness.
4) The ability to have a presumption of injury arise, without any formal testing, if a doctor of any type able to treat in workers’ compensation (chiropractors, orthopedists, podiatrists), concludes someone has COVID-19. This is very similar to the primary treating presumption that tripled rates for business in the early 2000 period.
Unfortunately, one company, State Compensation Insurance Fund, has already adopted some of these provisions in advance of any directive. Nonetheless, the Association remains opposed and will continue to fight this and other regulatory burdens being place on the agricultural industry even during these unbelievably critical times.