This was originally posted by our friends at the California League of Food Producers
We wanted to alert you that Governor Newsom is considering issuing a new Executive Order that would have a significant impact on most food processors by imposing a massive shift in worker’s compensation liability for industries deemed essential during the current coronavirus pandemic. This issue is evolving very rapidly and CLFP wants to apprise you of this situation in case we need to rally our members to contact their legislators to oppose the initiative.
The Governor has not released all of the details, but this is what we understand as being under consideration for the period March 20 until the end of 2020:
- Creating a conclusive presumption – i.e., no ability by the employer to dispute that an injury was work related – for anyone deemed “essential” during the COVID-19 response time, including all farm workers, workers in food processing, and workers in transportation This would allow workers in the state of California to get workers’ compensation funds from employers regardless of whether they contracted COVID-19 at work or otherwise.
- Extending the definition of an injury to “exposure” to COVID-19 even without symptoms or actual illness. This would create payments from business for individuals with no injury at all.
- Adding additional costs to business for temporary housing to quarantine workers recommended for quarantine,regardless of actual illness.
- The ability to have a presumption of injury arise, without any formal testing, if a doctor of any type able to treat in workers’ compensation (chiropractors, orthopedists, podiatrists), concludes someone has COVID-19.
The potential costs of this proposal are staggering. The Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California (WCIRB) recently released its Cost Evaluation of Potential Conclusive COVID-19 Presumption in California Workers’ Compensation and estimates that the annual cost of COVID-19 claims on essential critical infrastructure workers under a conclusive presumption ranges from $2.2 billion to $33.6 billion with an approximate mid-range estimate of $11.2 billion, or 61 percent of the annual estimated cost of the total workers’ compensation system prior to the impact of the pandemic.
CLFP is engaging the Governor’s Office directly and is also part of several business coalitions that are opposing this issue. Assemblyman Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove) has introduced AB 664, which would limit the scope of this action to just health care workers and first responders, and this might be an acceptable compromise. At least two other states are implementing this narrow approach and hopefully Governor Newsom will pursue this route instead.
We will keep you informed of developments and will contact you if it would be beneficial to have you become actively engaged in this situation.
About the California League of Food Producers
The California League of Food Producers (CLFP) has been the voice and the advocate for California’s food producing industry since 1905. CLFP represents the interests of both large and small food processors and beverage producers throughout the state and works to help ensure a favorable and profitable business environment for its members and the entire food producing industry.
Located in Sacramento, CLFP is the only statewide food producing organization in California focused specifically on protecting the interests of food processors before all branches of state government. CLFP is also on the forefront in addressing the many regulatory issues facing the industry in a state with the most complex and challenging state regulatory environment in the U.S. CLFP is structured and staffed to help its members effectively comply with requirements and plan for the future.
For more information on the California League of Food Producers, visit them online.
For more information about COVID-19 and resources to help the Food Industry, check out our COVID-19 resource hub.