AB 685 – COVID-19 Notice and Reporting Obligations

Key Points

The Legislature passed AB 685, which establishes mandatory COVID-19 notification requirements. Before being passed, the bill was updated to indicate presumption of retaliation for unfavorable employment actions and removed the $10,000 penalty provisions. Notification requirements do not apply until January 1, 2021.


The bill’s official key elements are as follows:

  • Requires employers or their representatives to receive a notice of potential COVID-19 exposure and take all of the following actions within one business day of the notice:
  • Within the infectious period, employers must provide a written notice to all employees and subcontractor’s employees who were on the premises about potential exposure.
  • Provide a written notice to the exclusive representative, if any, of the employees described above.
  • Provide all potentially infected employees and the exclusive representatives with information regarding COVID-19-related benefits they may be entitled to under federal, state, or local laws.
  • Notify all employees, subcontractor’s employees, and exclusive representatives on the employer’s proposed disinfection and safety plan following the Centers for Disease Control’s guidelines.
  • Unless required by law, employers cannot require employees to disclose medical information.
  • Employers cannot retaliate against a worker for disclosing a positive COVID-19 test, diagnosis, or order to quarantine or isolate. Workers who believe they have been retaliated against may file a complaint with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.
  • Requires that the California Department of Public Health must make occupation and industry information accessible to the public on their website.
  • The Division of Occupational Health and Safety may issue citations and civil penalties for violations of these requirements.



Littler: California AB 685 Imposes New Notice and Reporting Obligations for COVID-19 Workplace Exposure

On September 17, 2020, California doubled down on its efforts to keep non-remote employees safe from COVID-19 exposure. Governor Newsom signed AB 685, a new legislation that allows the state to track COVID-19 cases in the workplace more closely. The law also expands Cal/OSHA’s authority to issue Orders Prohibiting Use (OPU) for workplaces that pose a risk of an “imminent hazard” relating to COVID-19, as well as prescribing exhaustive notice requirements during a COVID-19 exposure in the workplace. AB 685 also enhances reporting requirements to local health authorities in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak in the worksite. The law takes effect on January 1, 2021.


For more information on AB 685 and how it affects employers, click here.

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