Tuesday, 13 October 2020 19:02

California COVID Presumption Law Creates New Data Tracking Burdens

Written by Jim Sams, Claims Journal


Jill Dulich, executive director of the California Self-Insurers Association, said the data tracking is a “significant challenge.”


“Many of the self-insureds have thousands of employees assigned to, and rotating between dozens of locations, so determining the highest number of co-workers at each location over the 45 days prior to the last day worked is nearly impossible,” she said in an email. “Tracking the positive cases is not a significant issue and that has largely been done since the COVID onset. While everyone continues to strive to comply with the requirements, they are very onerous and proving to be a huge test for the entire workers’ compensation community.”


During a telephone interview, CorVel’s Tucker questioned whether California employers would be better off with a broader infection with fewer data-reporting requirements. She said employers have been pushing lawmakers to revise the law to simplify compliance.


The California Workers’ Compensation Coalition, an employer group, offered to drop its opposition to SB 1159 before the legislature passed the bill if lawmakers dropped the portion of the bill that required employers to track the data used to decide if workplaces experienced COVID-19 outbreaks. The organization called the data-tracking requirements in the bill “administratively burdensome” and “unworkable for employers.” Lawmakers, however, rejected amendments offered by the group.


Coalition lobbyist Jason Schmelzer said in an email that the legislature will likely do some cleanup work to the legislation, which often happens when bills are passed on an emergency basis. But he said it is unlikely that lawmakers will revise the criteria for determining when an outbreak has occurred.


Hampton said employers who don’t comply with the data-tracking requirements can be fined up to $10,000 for each violation. She said fines will likely be less than that for first offenses, but the number will increase quickly if multiple violations are found.


She said California labor officials appear determined to keep a close eye on employers to ensure they don’t expose workers to COVID-19. She noted the Department of Industrial Relations announced Sept. 30 it is proposing fines ranging from $13,500 to $26,560 against five Los Angeles County grocery stores accused of failing to protect their workers from the coronarvirus by allowing too many customers in their stores.

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