As I noted in my last post, the coronavirus poses a major challenge to the California economy, including the California workers’ comp system.
The Bay Area economy is largely shut down under yesterday’s shelter in place orders. Other counties have ordered closures of gatherings, bars and restaurants.
In a world where many workers have minimal savings and can barely pay their rent anyway, the inevitable layoffs and small business failures will be ultra painful. The second and third jobs many workers take to make ends meet may be drying up. As we eventually emerge from this I expect we will see a different employment landscape.
How this will affect efforts to amend or repeal AB5 is not clear, but I have to think that there may be impacts on the politics surrounding AB5.
For now, kids are out of school in most places. Many workers are concerned about food security. The level of fear is high.
Yesterday, the California Division of Workers’ Comp and the WCAB announced that only expedited hearings will be held in person over the next several weeks. Other hearings may be held via CourtCall if possible, or otherwise canceled and reset.
All of this means more case resolution delays for some. The delays are inevitable and understandable, but can be a big stress for workers trying to navigate the comp system.
Many QMEs are canceling and resetting appointments.
Offices that never had “work from home” policies are doing just that.
Interest in telehealth and video conferencing is going through the roof.
Our office outsources scanning of the incoming mail, so lawyers and legal assistants working from remote locations can generally stay up to date through the network. Offices that have not invested in this may be paying the price now.
This is all unprecedented, however. Whether this will go on for weeks or months isn’t clear.
Everyone in the system is on uncharted ground. We will get though this, but need to all work together to keep the system flowing.