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Workers' Compensation in California for Essential Employees

California’s State Compensation Insurance Fund to Pay Medical Costs & Lost Income for Essential Employees Who Contract COVID-19

In a recent statement, California’s State Compensation Insurance Fund (“State Fund”), one of the largest workers’ compensation insurance providers in the state, announced that it will pay medical costs and lost income to employees of essential businesses who test positive for COVID-19. Officials with the State Fund also announced that essential workers do not need to prove that they contracted the coronavirus at work in order to have their costs covered; the State Fund will provide compensation for medical expenses and temporary disability benefits to any essential employee who has to self-quarantine due to a positive coronavirus diagnosis.

The State Fund also announced that it will be helping non-essential businesses work to protect employees from potentially contracting the virus via its Returning California to Work COVID-19 Safety Protocol Fund. With this fund, businesses can receive grants equal to two times their policy premium or up to $10,000 to be used for the purchasing of personal protective equipment (PPE), safety improvements, and other necessary items to help protect their employees.

Who Is Eligible to Receive Funds?

Any employee of an essential business, as outlined by Governor Gavin Newsom’s official order, is eligible to receive medical and temporary disability benefits through the State Fund. In order to qualify, employees must provide a positive COVID-19 test, confirming their diagnosis. The diagnosis must have been provided to the employee within the governor-issued stay-at-home order timeframe, beginning March 4, 2020 and continuing until the order is lifted.

According to the governor’s office, the following individuals are designated as “essential employees:”

  • Any health care or public health worker who provides coronavirus testing and/or clinical research considered necessary for COVID-19 treatment and/or response
  • All health care providers, medical professionals, and caregivers, including doctors, nurses, dentists, psychologists, pharmacists, social workers, behavioral health specialists, etc.
  • Health care facility personnel and staff (hospitals, laboratories, etc.)
  • Workers who provide services to economically disadvantaged individuals
  • Veterinarians and veterinary staff
  • Individuals who provide mortuary services
  • Law enforcement officers and personnel, public safety officer, and first responders
  • Firefighters and related personnel
  • Animal control officers
  • Private security officers and personnel
  • Individuals providing public works services
  • Food, pharmacy, and certain retail workers
  • Workers who provide energy services
  • Water and wastewater workers and staff
  • Mass transit workers and others who provide essential transportation services, including the transportation of goods, personnel, and equipment needed for COVID-19 testing, treatment, and management
  • Maritime workers
  • Automotive technicians
  • Postal workers (public and private) and delivery service personnel
  • Air transportation workers and staff
  • Communications and information technology employees, including individuals who provide radio, television, and phone services
  • Media providers, including news reporters and outlets, technicians, and other personnel
  • Certain government workers, including court employees
  • Education workers, including teachers and other school/educational facility staff
  • Construction workers
  • Plumbers, electricians, and other home service professionals
  • Hotel workers providing COVID-19 management services, including containment and homeless population protection
  • Laundromat workers and other laundry service employees
  • Financial service providers
  • Workers in the critical manufacturing chain of supply
  • Workers in the hazardous material/chemical management industry

This is not a full list of essential workers; you can view the full list of employees deemed “essential” by the governor’s office here.

Filing for Benefits

Following its announcement that it would be paying medical expenses and lost wage benefits for essential workers who contract COVID-19, regardless of whether they contract the virus at work, the State Fund announced that it had received more than 700 applications in the first four days. The State Fund has already sent out reimbursement to eligible applicants.

If you are an essential worker who contracted COVID-19, Alvandi Law Group can help you file your application for benefits from the California State Compensation Insurance Fund. Our office is currently offering remote services in compliance with the ongoing stay-at-home order; contact us today to learn more, including how our workers’ compensation attorneys can assist you in filing for benefits.