Do I have to file a workers’ comp claim every time one of my employees tests positive for COVID-19?

No. The California law that went into effect September 19, 2020, requires an employer to report a positive COVID-19 test to their workers’ compensation carrier within three business days from when the employer knows or reasonably should have known that an employee has tested positive.

All the employer is required to do is to report a positive test result and the carrier will determine whether an “outbreak” has occurred, thereby triggering the presumption of a workplace injury.

Employers must provide written notification to their claims administrator via electronic mail or facsimile within three business days and include the following information:

  • An employee has tested positive.
  • The date that the employee tested positive, which is the date the specimen was collected for testing.
  • The specific address or addresses of the employee’s specific place of employment during the 14-day period preceding the date of the employee’s positive test.
  • The highest number of employees who reported to work at the employee’s specific place of employment in the 45-day period preceding the last day the employee worked at each specific place of employment.

Under the new law, employers who fail to submit the required information or intentionally submit false or misleading information are subject to a civil penalty of up to $10,000, assessed by the Labor Commissioner.

Employers may want to contact their workers’ compensation carrier to understand what their carrier requires so that they will be prepared with the information that their carrier needs to determine whether a positive test is going to be filed as a workers’ compensation claim.

Read more about COVID-19 and Workplace Injuries in the HR Library.

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