S.E. Williams | Contributor
On Wednesday, May 6, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order assuring essential employees working outside the home who contract COVID-19 will be eligible for disability benefits.
The order is based on the presumption that those who contracted the virus acquired it on the job, though employers will still have an opportunity to refute their claims. The timeframe for rebuttal however, will be limited.
“We are removing a burden for workers on the front lines, who risk their own health and safety to deliver critical services to our fellow Californians, so that they can access benefits, and be able to focus on their recovery,” Newsom explained. “Workers’ compensation is a critical piece to reopening the state and it will help workers get the care they need to get healthy, and in turn, protect public health.”
Certainly, there is little doubt the COVID-19 Pandemic has shaded the lives and livelihoods of many all over the state, across the nation and around the world. “We want to make sure that those that have been most impacted have the ability to get back on their feet,” Newsom acknowledged.
Newsom was supported in this effort by the California Federation of Labor but was met with resistance from the California Chamber of Commerce.
On March 4, 2020, the Governor declared a State of Emergency in California due to COVID-19. Since then, he has taken several actions on behalf of workers to help support them through the crisis. Included among them, paid sick leave benefits for those working in the food service industry that are subject to a quarantine or isolation order; critical child support services for essential workers and vulnerable populations; additional weekly unemployment benefits; other much needed assistance in the form of loans for small businesses and job opportunities for workers displaced due to the pandemic.
Additional information regarding the state’s ongoing COVID-19 response efforts are available here.