Positive moves to protect frontline workers
As many stay-at-home orders around the state have been extended with some easing of restrictions for certain types of employees and social activities, there have been some positive moves to protect frontline workers as they continue the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Assemblymembers Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove) and Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) recently amended Assembly Bill 664 to create a presumption for health workers and first responders such as police and firefighters. Should they become infected with COVID-19, it would be presumed that they contracted the virus while on the job, entitling them to full workers’ compensation benefits.
A second bill, Senate Bill 1159 by Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), would create a rebuttable presumption for a larger group of “critical” workers, though that group has yet to be clearly defined. The bill would still allow for employers to dispute that their employees contracted the coronavirus at work, but it’s a step in the right direction.
As of April 16, California workers had filed 1,527 COVID-19-related claims, according to the Department of Industrial Relations. While the fate of these claims remains uncertain, the above-mentioned efforts offer signs of hope that our essential workers will be protected should they contract COVID-19 on the job. We certainly hope so.