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Workers’ comp benefits expand
Ag Alert / California Farm Bureau Federation Ag Alert May13, 2020
Agricultural organizations say farmers and ranchers have enacted "extraordinary measures" to protect their employees and the public from COVID-19, and will face significant impact from a gubernatorial order temporarily expanding workers' compensation insurance benefits.
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order last week requiring that "any COVID-19-related illness of an employee shall be presumed to arise out of and in the course of the employment for purposes of awarding workers' compensation benefits" if the employee tests positive or is diagnosed with the disease within 14 days after working at a place of employment after the governor issued the statewide stay-at-home order on March 19.
In a joint statement, four farm organizations—the Agricultural Council of California, California Farm Bureau Federation, California Fresh Fruit Association and Western Growers—said the executive order "will add more financial weight at a very difficult time."
Farms, ranches and agricultural businesses have dealt with "major supply chain disruptions" caused by the pandemic and related restrictions on restaurants, schools and other food-service customers, the organizations said.
"If the goal is to restart California's economy, then the added economic burden of medical claims related to COVID-19 should be borne by the government, not the essential industries providing a public good during a global pandemic," the farm groups said.
"Amid tremendous uncertainty," the groups' statement concluded, "the agricultural community is working to protect the health and safety of our essential workforce while we continue a vital mission to grow, harvest, pack, process and ship hundreds of nutritious California commodities for families in our state and across the country."
The executive order on workers' compensation insurance benefits will be in effect for 60 days from the date it was issued, May 6.
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