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Farm groups blast Newsom's workers' comp order

The order 'will add more financial weight at a very difficult time,' CFBF and other groups argue.

Farm Press Staff

May 7, 2020

1 Min Read
COVID-19 test
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Add farm groups to the list of California business interests angered by Gov. Gavin Newsom's executive order Wednesday that makes it easier for people to file for workers' compensation if they contract the coronavirus.

The California Farm Bureau Federation, Western Growers, the California Fresh Fruit Association and the Agricultural Council of California issued the following statement:

“As a critical infrastructure industry, agricultural businesses have been asked to continue providing our communities with safe and nutritious food during the COVID-19 crisis, and their employees – deemed essential by every level of government – have been asked to continue their critically important work. Agricultural employers have responded by enacting extraordinary measures to protect their employees and the public, all while struggling with major supply chain disruptions.

“This executive order will add more financial weight at a very difficult time. Instead, 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.

“Amid tremendous uncertainty, 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 order directs insurers carriers to approve workers compensation claims for COVID-19 with a presumption that the employee caught the coronavirus at work, the Sacramento Bee reports. Employers can challenge the claim under “strict criteria,” Newsom said, but the presumption puts the burden on them to prove that the worker became infected someplace else, according to the newspaper.

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