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Senate Bill 1159 FAQs

What is Senate Bill 1159?

Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill 1159 (SB 1159) on September 17, 2020. It created new laws that affect California employers with employees who test positive for COVID-19. One of these, Labor Code Section 3212.88, applies to California employers who have five (5) or more employees. It established that if a COVID-19 outbreak occurs at a place of employment, it may be assumed that employees who test positive for COIVD-19 contracted it at work.

What does this mean?

  • This law creates new reporting obligations for employers.
  • Employers must report to their claims administrator via email or fax when they are aware that an employee tested positive for COVID-19.
    • Positive test results must be by a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test or other viral testing approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA).
      • Positive antibody tests should not be reported.

When should I report this data?

  • If you have five (5) or more total employees, fax or email State Fund:
    • Within three (3) business days of knowledge (or when it should reasonably have been known) that there was a positive test on or after September 17, 2020.
    • If you know of positive test results that occurred between July 6, 2020, and prior to September 17, 2020, you must report each positive test occurrence by October 29, 2020.
  • If you have less than five (5) total employees, you are not required to report any additional data outside the claim reporting process.

What type of COVID-19 test do I need to report?

  • Report positive COVID-19 results taken from a PCR test (or other viral testing approved by the FDA).
  • Do not report positive antibody tests.

How do I report this data?

  • Download the form to report positive tests at StateFundca.com.
  • Reports can be sent to State Fund by email to COVID@scif.com or by fax to (800) 325-1284.
  • Phone calls are not permissible for reporting positive tests under SB 1159.
    • Contact State Fund if you have issues with reporting.

Are there penalties for not reporting this data?

Employers –may be subject to civil penalty of up to $10,000 as well as a potential citation for failure to report the required data to claims administrator or for submitting false information.

What is a PCR test?

A PCR (typically a nasal swab) test can determine if someone currently has a COVID-19 infection.

Why does State Fund need this information?

Labor Code 3212.88 includes a new “Outbreak” presumption. This means if a certain number of your employees at a specific location test positive for COVID 19 within a specified period, then a workers’ compensation claim filed by an employee is likely to be considered work related and the employee may be eligible for benefits. State Fund will determine if an outbreak has occurred based on employer reported information, so it is very important for employers to report timely and accurately.

What do I have to report?

You are required to report every employee with a positive PCR test. Information required includes:

  • Notice that an employee has tested positive. Do not include any Personal Identifiable Information (such as SSN, DOB, etc.).
  • Date the specimen was collected for the positive test.
  • The specific addresses of all places the employee worked 14 days preceding the positive test.
  • The highest number of employees reporting to each location worked 45 days preceding the employees last day worked.
  • The COVID-19 Positive Test Reporting Form outlines the information required from you.

Do I report negative tests too?

No, only report positive PCR tests, or other viral tests approved by the FDA.

What if I know it was not work related (i.e. employee just got back from vacation, his/her family got it first, etc.)

You are required to report all positive cases, regardless of if you believe your employee did not get it at work.

What if the employee refuses to give me their test results?

You do not have to report employees who do not provide you with their written test results. However, if you are able to verify an employee has a positive PCR test (i.e. they show you their positive PCR results but do not provide you a copy) you must report it.

Will these claims affect my experience modification (x-mod)?

No, COVID -19 claims are excluded from experience modification calculations.

Do I have to submit a COVID-19 Positive Test Reporting Form even if my employee does not want to pursue a workers’ compensation claim?

Yes, the law now requires employers with more than five (5) total employees to report every employee who tests positive for COVID-19 by a PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test regardless of whether or not a workers’ compensation claim will be filed.

When I submit a COVID-19 Positive Test Reporting Form will it also create/file a workers’ compensation claim?

No. However, if an employee believes their exposure may be work related, please refer to our claim kit for the proper forms and instructions, and to see your obligations as the employer. Fax completed claim forms Employee Claim Form (DWC Form 1) and/or Employer’s Report of Occupational Injury or Illness to (800) 371-5905. Please call (888) 782-8338 for more information or help as needed.

What does specific work location mean?

A “specific work location” means the building, store, facility or agricultural field where the employee worked at your direction. Many workers may transition between multiple places of employment during their shift. So tracking the locations that they are required to work at is essential.

When has an outbreak occurred?

State Fund will determine if an outbreak has occurred based on employer reported information, so it is very important for employers to report timely and accurately. An outbreak is defined as:

  • Employers with 100 or less employees at a location – four (4) employees test positive in a 14-day period.
  • Employers with more than 100 employees at a location – four percent (4 %) of employees test positive in a 14-day period.
  • Employer is ordered to close by a local public health department, the State Department of Public Health, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, or a superintendent due to risk of infection with COVID-19.

None of my employees have yet tested positive for COVID-19. Should I report positive tests in the future?

Yes, going forward, if you have an employee who tests positive on or after July 6, 2020, please be sure to report it.

I have fewer than five employees in California and more out of state for a total more than five (5). Does this apply to me? (Example - seven (7) employees total; four (4) in CA, three (3) outside of CA.)

Yes, California employers with five (5) or more total employees must report positive COVID-19 tests, regardless of the state in which the employees work. Determining if an outbreak occurred will be the responsibility of the claims administrator.

Do I need to report positive COVID-19 tests if all my employees have worked remotely from their homes since before the pandemic?

No, if all employees work remotely, you do not need to report positive COVID-19 test results. However, you are required to report positive tests for employees that reported to a workplace outside of their home at the employer’s direction (unless an employee is providing home health care at their place of residence).

Where should I report positive COVID-19 test results?

To report a positive COVID-19 test result please complete the COVID-19 Positive Test Report form and submit by email to COVID@scif.com or by fax to (800) 325-1284.

It is important to note this report does not generate an injury claim, nor does an injury claim qualify as a report. To submit a workers’ compensation claim, refer to our claim kit for the proper forms and instructions. Fax completed claim forms Employee Claim Form (DWC Form 1) and/or Employer’s Report of Occupational Injury or Illness to (800) 371-5905. Please call (888) 782-8338 for more information or help as needed.

Does this apply to employers who are shut down and whose employees are not actively working?

No, California employers are required to report positive tests for employees that reported to a workplace outside of their home at the employer’s direction (unless your employee is providing home health care at their place of residence). However, depending on when you shut down, California employers are required to report any employee who tests positive for COVID-19 on or after July 6, 2020, moving forward. If you have had an employee that has tested positive on or after July 6, 2020, please be sure to report it.

Aren’t employers already required to report injuries?

Yes, existing law requires employers to report work-related injuries and illnesses. They must now also submit an additional report, with specific details, for each positive COVID-19 test to their claims administrator regardless of whether the employee files a workers’ compensation claim.

Do I have to report positive COVID-19 tests if I have four (4) employees?

No, you do not. California employers with fewer than five (5) employees are not required to report positive COVID-19 test results.

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