A recently passed California law requires employers to comply with stringent COVID-19 reporting requirements when an employee has a confirmed positive case of COVID-19, or an outbreak occurs at an employer’s worksite.
If an employer receives notice of any potential exposure to COVID-19, the employer must do the following within one business day of the notice of exposure:
(A) Provide written notice to all employees and employers of subcontracted employees who were on the premises that may have been exposed to COVID-19. Written notice may include email, or text message, if it can be reasonably received by the employee within one business day.
(B) Provide all employees and employers of subcontracted employees who may have been exposed, information related to COVID-19-related benefits that employee may be entitled to. This includes workers’ compensation, COVID-19 related leave, company sick leave, state-mandated leave, supplemental sick leave, or negotiated leave provisions, as well as antiretaliation and antidiscrimination protections.
(C) Notify all employees of the disinfection and safety plan that employer will implement and complete under the guidelines of the federal Centers for Disease Control.
AB 685 additionally requires the employer to notify the local public health agency within 48 hours if a COVID-19 outbreak occurs at the worksite. A COVID-19 outbreak is defined as at least three probable or confirmed COVID-19 cases within a 14-day period in individuals who are from different households and not identified as close contacts (a person who was within 6 feet of an infectious case for at least 15 minutes) of any other case investigation. The employer must also provide the business address and NAICS code of the worksite and must continue to give notice to the local health department of any subsequent confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Stiff penalties are possible under the new law and to avoid a civil penalty and citation, employers should ensure that employees and supervisors are trained to prevent exposure, employees who are exposed or potentially exposed are adequately supervised, and procedures are in place for communicating to employees the employer’s health and safety rules.