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State provides support to businesses for COVID-19 worker protection

The California State Compensation Insurance Fund announced a series of initiatives to support policyholders and workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The group has earmarked a $50 million Essential Business Support Fund for workplace safety initiatives to keep employees safe while they are at work. This is on top of $165 million already established to aid workers and policyholders in California.

The State Fund announced this in mid-April, and the amount included was doubled after the first week – the Fund saw 700 applications in that first week. The payments have a maximum of $10,000 to qualified applicants. Eligible expenses include:

  • Worksite modifications
  • Goggles
  • Gloves
  • Masks
  • Cleaning supplies

Returning to work fund

The State Fund also announced a Returning California to Work COVID-19 Safety Protocol Fund. This will be used much as the essential business fund is, but specifically applies to businesses not deemed essential by the governor. The funds are designed to be used on safety-related expenses planned or already implemented. Applications will be available at StateFundCA once stay at home restrictions are lifted.

Claims by essential workers allowed

Essential workers diagnosed with a case of COVID-19 can file a claim if it is a diagnosed case. However, the worker need not prove that he or she contracted the virus at work. The diagnosis must include a confirmed positive test, and the case must occur during the stay at home order that exempted essential workers.

Businesses encouraged to apply

Businesses will likely need to adopt new safety protocols and measures regardless of whether they take advantage of the funds. Therefore, it is advised to apply for these at the appropriate time to reduce the likelihood of sick employees and any liability incurred. Lawmakers are currently drafting and updating saws regarding workers, policyholders and COVID-19. Thus, it is best for those business owners and managers with concerns to speak with an experienced attorney who handles business law, employment law and insurance law issues.