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California SB 1159

COVID-19 Positive Test Report Form
For a paper form, click here.
Instructions for reporting positive employee COVID-19 cases

The California Legislature recently passed and implemented SB 1159 that impacts all California employers.

SB 1159 creates a rebuttable presumption that COVID-19 arose out of and in the course of employment for certain workers, depending on the date of injury.

  • If an employee worked outside their own residence and was diagnosed with COVID-19 between March 19, 2020 and July 5, 2020, it will be presumed that COVID-19 arose out of and in the course of employment.
  • From July 6, 2020 until January 1, 2023, certain workers will be entitled to an ongoing presumption that COVID-19 arose out of and in the course of employment. The ongoing presumption applies to firefighters, peace officers, rescue service workers, registered nurses, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, employees who provide direct patient care at a health facility or home health agency, and employees who provide in-home support services. An employee of a healthcare facility who does not provide direct patient care is also entitled to the presumption, unless you can show the employee did not have contact with a health facility patient who tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 14 days.
  • From July 6, 2020 until January 1, 2023, all other employees who test positive for COVID-19 during a period of an “outbreak” at their specific place of employment other than their home or residence will also be entitled to a presumption that COVID-19 arose out of and in the course of employment. If you have five to 100 employees at a specific place of employment, an outbreak occurs when four employees test positive for COVID-19 within 14 calendar days. If you have more than 100 employees at a specific place of employment, an outbreak occurs when 4% of your employees test positive for COVID-19 within 14 calendar days. SB 1159 requires employers to keep track of each specific work site where an employee works on a daily basis.
  • You may dispute the presumption that COVID-19 arose out of and in the course of employment with other evidence, including evidence that an employee contracted COVID-19 outside of work or that you had measures in place to reduce the potential transmission of COVID-19. It is important that you assist your claims administrator in quickly gathering evidence. If the claims administrator fails to deny a claim within 45 days, the claim will be presumed compensable.

Available Benefits

An employee who contracts COVID-19 in the course and scope of employment is entitled to hospital treatment, surgical treatment, medical treatment, indemnity benefits, and death benefits. However, if you offer sick leave benefits specifically in response to COVID-19, those benefits must be exhausted by the employee before temporary disability benefits will be paid.

Employee Duties

To qualify for a workers’ compensation presumption, an employee must show that they tested positive for COVID-19 within 14 days after performing labor or services on your behalf. Beginning July 6, 2020, the employee must test positive using a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test or other test approved for use or emergency use by the United States Food and Drug Administration (U.S. FDA) to detect the presence of viral RNA. Employees can no longer rely on serological testing, which is also known as antibody testing.

To receive indemnity benefits, an employee must also be certified by a physician for temporary disability within 15 days after the initial diagnosis and every 15 days thereafter.

Employer Duties

SB 1159 requires employers who have five or more employees to report employee positive tests for COVID-19 that occur after July 5, 2020 to the employer’s workers’ compensation claims administrator regardless of whether the employer or employee believes the employee contracted COVID-19 at work or not.

If you are aware that an employee has tested positive for COVID-19 between July 6, 2020 and September 16, 2020, you must report the following information to your claims administrator within 30 business days of September 17, 2020.

  1. An employee has tested positive (you should not report the employee’s identifying information unless the employee asserts the infection is work-related);
  2. The date the employee tested positive;
  3. The specific addresses where the employee worked during the 14 days prior to testing positive for COVID-19; and
  4. The highest number of employees who reported to the same place of employment during the 45 days prior to the injured employee testing positive for COVID-19.

Beginning September 17, 2020, if you learn that an employee has tested positive for COVID-19, you must report the above information within three business days in writing to your claims administrator.

Please see the document titled “Instructions for Reporting Positive Employee COVID-19 Cases” for additional information. You can also file a claim here.

WCF National Insurance Company has created a form for reporting any employee positive test COVID-19 cases. The information you report will be used to determine whether an outbreak has occurred. 

If you intentionally report false or misleading information or fail to report positive test results, the Labor Commissioner may issue a citation and assess a civil penalty against you of up to $10,000.00. You may contest the citation within 15 business days after service of the citation.


The information provided above is for information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. We make no representations or warranties, express or implied, guarantees, or conditions of compliance with applicable laws or regulations, and such compliance is ultimately the responsibility of the employer. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any such issue.



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