FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 17, 2020
Contact: Mike Roth, 916.813.1554
Maria Elena Jauregui, 818.355.5291 (Spanish-language)
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION LEGISLATION SHOWS CALIFORNIA VALUES ESSENTIAL WORKERS
Sacramento, CA—Today, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) California applauded Governor Gavin Newsom for signing SB 1159 by Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) into law. SB 1159 was a piece of priority legislation for the union that will increase workers’ compensation protections for essential workers.
“California’s workers on the front lines have been risking their lives day in and day out during the COVID-19 crisis to keep Californians safe and healthy; essential workers who become infected with COVID-19 deserve quick and clear access to income replacement and healthcare,” said Bob Schoonover, President of SEIU California and SEIU Local 721.
SB 1159 codifies the terms of Executive Order N-62-20 and creates a rebuttable presumption that peace officers, firefighters, healthcare and home care workers who contract COVID-19 were infected with the virus via a workplace exposure. For all other essential workers, SB 1159 establishes a presumption for workers who contract COVID-19 as part of an “outbreak” at a work location. An outbreak applies when there are four or more employees who contract COVID-19 at a worksite. For employers with more than 100 employees the standard would be 4% or more of the employees who worked at a specific work location contracted the disease within a 14-day period.
“After being sick from COVID-19, essential workers can’t afford to spend months or even years in court fighting for healthcare and other benefits we need,” said Kim Ballon, an IHSS caregiver from Ventura County. “SB 1159 will help relieve us of the added burden of proving we were infected on the job. It will prevent potential job loss, homelessness and poverty. We applaud the Governor for signing this essential legislation into law.”
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