In 2020, the California Legislature passed Senate Bill 1159 (SB 1159), which established a rebuttable presumption for specified employees that illness or death resulting from COVID-19 arose out of and in the course of employment. The presumptions were established in Labor Code §§ 3212.86, LC 3212.87 and LC 3212.88.
In the Senate Floor Analysis for SB 1159, the Legislature believed that the burden of fighting COVID-19 had fallen disproportionately on a small group of workers in both the private and public sectors. The presumptions were enacted to reduce the barriers to accessing the workers’ compensation system for essential workers suffering from COVID-19. So for several years, the COVID-19 presumptions made it easier for many workers to prove entitlement to workers' compensation benefits for illnesses related to COVID-19.