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California's COVID-19 tracking requirements challenge employers



A new California requirement for employers to report compensation insurance companies to their workers on COVID-19 cases, whether they are work-related or not, has raised concerns that employers will struggle to comply with them.

S.B. 1159, which Gavin Newsom signed into law on September 17, creates a path for workers who test positive for COVID-19 to file a workers' compensation claim if certain criteria are met, including that it turns out that an outbreak of virus in the workplace a provision that creates more obligations for employers who are already bound by new security requirements, according to legal experts who say the new rules may be too taxing.

"Employers, whether or not a claim has been filed, must report this information whenever there is a positive COVID test," said Michael Sullivan, El Segundo, California-based manager of Michael Sullivan & Associates LLC. “They must include how many employees there are in each (workplace). It creates an incredible burden for employers. "

" My biggest concern is that the average employer … is not aware of (the tracking requirement) and will not be aware of it, "said Jeff Adelson, a partner at Newport Beach, California, Adelson McLean PC, who said that there seems to be a backlog of employers who know what to do and when.

"I do not know how it will really help if insurance companies and brokers do not go out and give them advice on what (the requirements) are.

The tracking requirement, which comes with a $ 1

0,000 fine for each incident of failure to say that when an employer "knows or should reasonably know" that an employee has tested positive for COVID-19, it must report it to its employee compensation within three working days. The report must include information such as the date on which the employee tested positive, the specific address or addresses of the employee's place or place of employment during the 14-day period prior to the positive test and the maximum number of employees who reported working for 45 days before the last day as an employee. worked in the workplace. For employers whose employees visit several workplaces, paperwork can be daunting, experts say.

Failure to track cases and possible outbreaks in multiple locations can "get expensive really quickly," Sullivan said.

But According to Martha Doty, Los Angeles-based advisor at Alston & Bird LLP, the new requirement will have an advantage.

"It imposes administrative burdens on companies doing business here in California, but it is also designed to encourage employers to follow and take the necessary safety protocols to prevent COVID outbreaks," she said, adding that she is convinced that Employers will catch on in the same way they do with other demands that have played into the pandemic.

“My opinion is that employers in California are becoming aware of the steps they need to take when their employees report positive COVID tests, and that they understand that this gives rise to potential workers' compensation claims and benefits, and that they will now knowing that these are further steps in rapid reporting to their operator, "she said.

" As burdensome as this may seem, the intention is to follow the precautions. If you are going to put a positive role on it, (this) will encourage employers to follow safety protocols, stay on top of them and not just provide lip service.

Meanwhile, third-party administrators have stepped up to meet the reporting challenges to understand where an outbreak may or has occurred. Under the new law, an outbreak is defined as four or more cases in workplaces with 100 or fewer employees or 4% of a workforce in a workplace with more than 100 employees.

Earlier this month, Memgis, Tennessee-based Sedgwick Claims Management Services Inc. launched a COVID-19 intake portal to simplify tracking requirements. Max Koonce, Fayetteville, Arkansas-based chief executive officer for the third-party administrator, said the cloud-based portal is an extension of existing claims reporting software that allows employers to create COVID-19 case reports, whether they become claims or not. .

“It was a very light pivot because of the information that would be required; the system had the capacity, ”he said.

Irvine, California-based CorVel Corp. has also introduced a software solution to facilitate tracking for employers.

The program provides "fast, streamlined, on-site electronic information for employers," said Michelle Tucker, of Sacramento, California-based vice president of corporate operations at CorVel. "We felt it was important to keep track of outbreaks as soon as possible, and we really wanted a central place for visibility." ]. Catalog

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