On April 6, 2020, prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, California Insurance Commissioner, Ricardo Lara, sent a formal Notice to workers’ compensation insurers reminding them that all workers are entitled to protection under California’s workers’ compensation laws, regardless of immigration status. More importantly, he added: “Workers’ compensation injuries caused by COVID-19 that arise out of and occur in the course of employment are compensable to the same extent as any other compensable injury or disease.”
This follows a statement from Governor Gavin Newsom’s office, that workers who are “unable to do their usual job because they were exposed to and contracted COVID-19 during the regular course of their work may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.”
Commissioner Lara’s Notice is important for employers to keep in mind as well, because they are often the first contact an injured worker makes when reporting a claim. He wrote: “This Notice is a reminder that such claims may not be denied on the basis of the injured worker’s citizenship or immigration status.” Under 2015 legislation authored by Lara when he was in the California State Senate, all workers injured on the job would also be eligible for compensation pursuant to the Uninsured Employers Benefits Trust Fund or the Subsequent Injury Fund.
If you have questions about Commissioner Lara’s Notice, or any other concerns navigating the COVID-19 pandemic and the government’s response to it, RPNA is here to help and can be contacted at (818) 992-9999.