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.