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To paraphrase an old political slogan, “As California goes, so goes the nation.”

That’s not necessarily true, but it is true that California has played an outsized role in modeling legislation for the entire country.

Recent developments out of the Golden State are something that dental practice owners across the country might need to prepare for.

The California Dental Association (CDA) reports that Governor Gavin Newcomb signed two new bills into law; one with an effective date of January 1, 2021 and the second going into force immediately.

Assembly Bill 685 “requires most private and public employers in California that receive notice of potential exposure to COVID-19 to provide specified notifications to its employees within one business day of the notice of potential exposure.”

The new law defines the circumstances under which such notification must take place and the time frames for notification.

By itself, the notification requirement shouldn’t raise any particular alarms. However, the second bill – Senate Bill 1159 – takes effect immediately and has the potential to directly impact dental practice owners’ bottom lines.

The bill “creates a COVID-19 presumption for the purpose of access to workers’ compensation, meaning that an employee’s ‘injury’ that includes illness or death resulting from COVID-19 is presumed to have occurred  in the course of employment and is compensable for the dates of injury.”

There are different threshold levels at which the presumption takes place. For companies with 5-100 employees (covering the vast majority of private practice dentists), the threshold is reached when four positive cases are confirmed within 14 calendar days.

A Model For The Entire Country?

California’s threshold of five or more employees appears to be fairly high compared to much of the country. If similar measures are enacted in your state – and the longer the pandemic goes on, the more likely that is to happen – your business will almost certainly be included.

If you pay for a commercial Workers Compensation insurance policy, you’ll likely be okay.  However, if you self-insure for Workers Compensation, any benefits come directly out of your practice’s resources. 

There’s no guarantee that California’s legislative model will be adopted by other states, but that’s the way to bet. Savvy dental practice owners will consult their attorneys, financial advisors, and/or workers’ compensation specialists before it becomes legally necessary. 


Written by Smartbox

SmartBox employs the best minds in dentistry to help you grow your practice. Our Practice Growth System™ is proven to help dentists in every market area across the country achieve predictable year-over-year growth.

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