A workers’ compensation claim may commonly be associated with an injury that results from an accident. However, a person may also qualify to receive workers’ compensation after contracting certain illnesses at work or related to their working environment.

A new bill passed by the California State Legislature and signed into law by the Governor in mid-September outlines new provisions that may pave the way for more employees to apply for workers’ compensation benefits and medical treatment if they test positive for COVID-19.

California Senate Bill 1159

As explained by the California Code, Senate Bill 1159 requires that after an employee tests positive for COVID-19, that person’s employer must inform the business’ workers’ compensation insurance company of the result. This reporting must be made regardless of whether or not the place of employment was related to the positive illness diagnosis.

Companies with five or more employees may be covered by this new law.

The burden of proof

Another provision of the new law includes the responsibility for proving the connection between a place of work and a positive test result. SB 1159 places this responsibility on the businesses, not on the employees.

SB 159 also outlines the definition of an outbreak in the context of a workplace. Workers’ compensation benefits may be available to people who contract COVID-19 through the end of 2022.

Workers’ compensation benefits

The California Department of Industrial Relations indicates that a person may qualify to receive a variety of benefits, including wage loss benefits, death benefits or medical treatment benefits after testing positive for the COVID-19 virus.