California’s Workers’ Compensation Law Amended to Include COVID-19

Sep 16, 2020 | COVID-19, Labor Laws, Workers' Comp & Insurance


COVID-19-related illnesses will be compensable, work-related conditions under California’s workers’ compensation law effective Sept 30, 2020. Families in the state are required to carry workers’ compensation when employing someone to work in their homes.

California recently amended its workers’ compensation law, under Senate Bill 1159 (SB1159), to provide a presumption that COVID-19 is a compensable, work-related condition under certain circumstances. The bill is expected to be signed into law but will otherwise go into effect on Sept. 30, 2020.

Under the bill, if certain employees test positive for COVID-19 within 14 days after working away from their homes at their employers’ direction, the illness will be presumed compensable. Employers that wish to dispute an employee’s presumptively compensable claim for COVID-19 may still present evidence to rebut that presumption. However, the bill requires employers to dispute this type of claim within 30 or 45 days, rather than within the 90 days that are allowed for other types of claims.

A similar presumption was previously implemented under Executive Order N-62-20, but that had only applied for employees who worked outside their homes between March 19 and July 5, 2020. With some modifications, the new law adopts and expands that order to cover certain employees through Jan. 1, 2023.

Workers’ compensation is required when employing household workers in California. Coverage is normally added to your homeowner’s insurance. If not, you can obtain a policy through the California State Compensation Insurance Fund. The annual premium is based on an employee’s annual salary. The state monitors quarterly tax filings and conducts a year-end audit to make sure the employer paid the correct premium.

The law excludes workers employed by a parent, spouse, or child.

Learn more about California household employment rules and regulations.

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