Grocery store workers will have access to workers' compensation if they are exposed to COVID-19 at work, per a bill Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law Thursday. (Photo via Yibei/Unsplash)

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill Thursday authored by a Bay Area state legislator that will expand access to workers’ compensation for front-line workers affected by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Senate Bill 1159 creates a rebuttable presumption of infection for people like grocery store employees, health care workers, firefighters and law enforcement officers who believe they contracted the coronavirus at work.

The law, authored by state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, also creates a presumption of infection whenever there is a workplace outbreak over a two-week span of time.

“Everyone who is providing the benefits to our community and our society today, they need to be protected,” Hill said. “This legislation … has done that.”

SB 1159 will take effect immediately as an urgency statute and will remain in effect through Jan. 1, 2023.

Newsom also signed a bill authored by Assemblywoman Eloise Gomes Reyes, D-San Bernardino, that will require employers to report coronavirus outbreaks to their local public health department within 48 hours and to employees who may have been exposed within one business day.

Assembly Bill 685 also gives the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) the authority to close a worksite or place of employment that is actively exposing workers to the risk of contracting the virus.

“These bills give workers a choice and a voice,” California Labor and Workforce Development Agency Secretary Julie Su said.

AB 685 will also remain in effect through Jan. 1, 2023.

“Protecting workers is critical to slowing the spread of this virus,” Newsom said. “These two laws will help California workers stay safe at work and get the support they need if they are exposed to COVID-19.”