|California Governor Gavin Newsom may soon issue an Executive Order (EO) mandating that all essential workers who are not sheltering-in-place and contract COVID-19 be covered by workers’ compensation, which would apply to agricultural employees.
This conclusive presumption of work-related illness would allow essential employees to claim benefits without the opportunity for employers or insurance companies to review the legitimacy of the claim.
Additionally, the EO may extend eligibility for benefits to essential workers who have been exposed to COVID-19, absent any actual illness or injury, and would require benefits to be paid for the cost of temporary housing to quarantine essential employees.
While future rate increases on insured employers would be theoretically mitigated by prohibiting COVID-19 claims from being considered in the employer’s experience modification rating, we know that workers’ compensation carriers would ultimately recoup these unanticipated losses at the expense of the employer.
Furthermore, the EO would provide no protections for self-insured employers and those in workers’ compensation captives.
This EO would be devastating to an agriculture industry that is already reeling from the widespread shelter-in-place orders, which has resulted in the virtual collapse of the foodservice sector and corollary challenges in the retail marketplace.
Please take the following immediate actions:
- Contact Governor Newsom. We need to flood his office with calls opposing this proposed EO. You can call his office at 916-445-2841.
- Contact your state legislators. We need our state legislators to put pressure on Governor Newsom, urging him to avoid another costly mandate on California farmers at a time when the industry is looking for relief from the economic impacts of COVID-19.