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Changes to California Workers’ Compensation in 2020

Changes to California Workers’ Compensation in 2020

Benefit increases, worker classification changes, and more are coming in 2020

Changes to California Workers’ Compensation in 2020

In California, employees who are injured or who develop an illness while on the job may be entitled to through the workers’ compensation system. Workers’ comp is a form of insurance that provides certain benefits — such as income replacement and medical expenses — without regard to fault. In other words, if you are injured or become sick at work, you will be able to receive benefits without having to prove that your employer was negligent.

As a California workers’ compensation attorney can explain, the workers’ compensation system is an important protection for employees. Instead of having to pay out of pocket for medical treatment or worrying about lost wages, an employe can seek benefits.

In 2020, there are a number of changes that will come to California workers’ compensation law. The most significant change will come in how workers are classified — as employees or independent contractors. In the gig economy, employers are increasingly likely to label people who work for them as independent contractors rather than employees. Doing so allows employers to avoid paying a number of benefits and taxes. It also means that these workers are not covered by workers’ compensation insurance.

In September 2019, a new law was signed (AB 5) that changes how workers in California are classified. It will go into effect on January 1, 2020. This law expands the presumption that workers are employees and adopts the “ABC Test” to helps determine who is an employee and who is an independent contractor under California law. Under AB 5, it will be more difficult for employers to classify workers as independent contractors instead of employees. As a result, more people will be covered by the California workers’ compensation system because they will now be considered employees. In addition, employers who fight paying workers’ compensation benefits on the basis that a worker is an independent contractor will have a more difficult time making this argument. A skilled California workers’ compensation attorney will be able to use this new law — and the ABC Test contained in it — to prove that an individual was misclassified as an independent contractor, and is entitled to workers’ compensation protection.

Beyond this change, in 2020, the rate for many workers’ compensation benefits will increase. This includes:

  • Maximum temporary total disability (TTD) benefits will increase to a rate of $1,299.43 per week (from $1,251.38).
  • Minimum benefit rates will also increase from $187.71 per week to $194.91 per week.

Importantly, these rates only apply to injuries suffered on or after January 1, 2020. Any injuries or illnesses that happened before that date will be paid at the rate established for that year. Compensation rates for partial disability will not change. They will remain at a maximum of $290.00 per week, with a minimum benefit of $160.00 per week. If employers underpay workers’ compensation benefits, they may be responsible for fees and penalties. For this reason, it is vital to know the current benefit rate.

If you have been hurt at work, a California workers’ compensation attorney can help you get the benefits that you are entitled to under the law. PLBSH represents employees in workers’ compensation claims and appeals — including those who were misclassified as independent contractors. To learn more or to schedule a consultation with a California workers’ compensation attorney, contact us at (800) 435-7542 or info@plbsh.com.

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