The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) has just published its “Workers Compensation Presumptions Update – Five Thinks You Need to Know” Insights Report.
Two years after the start of the pandemic, COVID-19 continues to be an important topic for workers compensation.
Who Established Presumptions? During 2020 and 2021, 18 states, including California, established COVID-19 presumptions via legislation, directives, emergency rules, and/or executive orders. Two additional states – Tennessee and Washington – established a more general “infectious disease presumption.”
Most of the COVID-19 workers compensation presumptions enacted or adopted in 2020 and 2021 contained expiration dates or sunset provisions tied to the end of the state of emergency or another specified date.
What States Might Extend Them? Several states that enacted presumptions in 2020 and 2021 considered, or are considering, legislation to extend the expiration date of the presumption to a later date and/or expand the COVID-19 presumption to additional categories of workers.
California AB 1751 would extend the expiration date for the COVID-19 presumption from January 1, 2023, to January 1, 2025. The bill passed the Assembly and is under consideration in the Senate.
What States Might go Beyond the Pandemic? Five states proposed legislation to create workers compensation presumptions that could be applicable beyond the current COVID-19 pandemic. These types of proposals may specifically mention COVID-19, but also contain terms such as “infectious disease”” “COVID-19 or similar disease,” or “other future qualifying pandemic.” And they might not include sunset provisions or expiration dates.
California SB 213 would establish a workers compensation presumption for infectious and respiratory diseases – both defined to include COVID-19 – for certain hospital employees. The proposal does not include an expiration date.
When will Existing Presumptions Expire?: Seven states have a COVID-19 or infectious disease presumption in effect as of June 1, 2022. The current California presumptions expire on January 1, 2023, unless extended.
The questions surrounding COVID-19 workers compensation presumptions are important for workers compensation stakeholders. As noted above, these presumptions have the potential to impact workers compensation system costs. The full report can be read online.