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Keeping Up with Changes: What’s New in California Workers’ Comp Laws

Keeping Up with Changes: What's New in California Workers' Comp Laws

Updated: 05/22/2024

California has been shaking things up lately, and it’s good to know what’s going on, whether you’re running a business or working on the front lines as an insurance agent. As of July 2023, workers’ comp insurance is now mandatory for certain licensed contractors in California, even if they don’t have any employees. That’s a big change! Previously, only roofing contractors were required to have workers’ comp if they had no employees, but now, other contractors like concrete workers, tree service folks, HVAC pros, and asbestos abatement crews are also on the hook for coverage.

License Renewal and Proof of Insurance

If you’re a contractor with an active license in one of these categories, you’ll need to show proof of workers’ comp coverage during your license renewal process. And if your license isn’t up for renewal before June 30, 2023, no worries—you still need to provide proof of insurance to the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) by July 1.

Expanding Coverage for Occupational Diseases

Now, let’s talk about something positive. California’s Assembly Bill 1465 has expanded workers’ comp coverage to include more injuries and conditions, like infectious diseases contracted in the workplace—hello, COVID-19. This change is all about protecting frontline workers and healthcare heroes who put themselves at risk every day.

Remote Work and Telecommuting

With more folks working from home these days, there’s been a bit of confusion about when injuries at home are covered by workers’ comp. But don’t worry, Assembly Bill 1159 has clarified things. If you catch COVID-19 while working remotely and meet certain criteria, you’re covered. It’s as simple as that.

Independent Contractor Classification

Now, let’s talk about Assembly Bill 5 (AB5). This one’s been shaking things up since 2020, especially when it comes to classifying workers as independent contractors or employees. If you’re in California, workers are generally presumed to be employees unless they meet specific criteria for independent contractor status. This could affect workers’ comp coverage for some folks who were previously classified as independent contractors.

Making Access to Medical Treatment Easier

Last but not least, let’s talk about getting medical help when you need it. California has been working on streamlining the process for injured workers to access medical treatment. Senate Bill 335 is all about making the Utilization Review (UR) process more efficient, while also expanding the network of approved healthcare providers. It’s all about getting folks the help they need, when they need it.

What This Means for Businesses and Workers

For businesses, these changes mean it’s time for a review of your workers’ comp policies and procedures. Make sure you’re up to date on reporting requirements for COVID-19 cases and any expanded coverage for occupational diseases. And don’t forget to double-check how you’re classifying your workers to avoid any misclassification claims.

For workers, these changes mean greater protection and easier access to medical treatment if you get hurt on the job—whether you’re on the front lines or working from your kitchen table.

So, there you have it—everything you need to know about the latest workers’ comp laws in California. Stay informed, stay safe, and let’s keep working towards a safer, healthier workplace for everyone!

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