(AB 685) COVID-19 Workplace Exposure Notice and Reporting – Effective January 1st, 2021

COVID-19 Workplace Exposure Notice and Reporting

AB 685 (Reyes) created COVID-19 notice and reporting obligations for all California employers. The new law will require contractors, within one business day, to provide written notice of a potential COVID-19 workplace exposure to all employees, employees’ exclusive representative (the union), and any subcontractors who were at the same worksite as a “qualifying individual” within the “infectious period.” A “qualifying individual” is defined as any individual who (1) has a positive viral test for COVID-19, (2) is diagnosed with COVID-19 by a licensed health care provider, (3) is ordered to isolate for COVID-19 by a public health official, or (4) has died due to COVID-19. “Infectious period” means the time a COVID-19-positive individual is infectious, as defined by the State Department of Public Health which is currently 10 days. If a qualifying individual has been at the employer’s worksite during the infectious period, the employer must provide the potential COVID-19 workplace exposure notice. Contractors may communicate this written notice by e-mail, text message, or memorandum. The notice must include information regarding COVID-19 benefits under federal, state, or local laws that are available to employees as well as information regarding the employer’s disinfection and safety plan that it plans to implement and complete per the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Employers are required to maintain records of notifications for at least three years.

The law further imposes the obligation for employers to report when there has been an “outbreak” in their workforce. Specifically, if an employer is notified that there have been three or more laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 among workers who live in different households within a two-week period, the employer must, within 48 hours, notify the local public health agency of the names, number, occupation, and worksite of employees who meet the definition of a “qualifying individual.”

These COVID-19-specific changes to the Labor Code will remain in effect until January 1, 2023. In preparation to meet these new requirements, contractors should prepare a template COVID-19 notice that is ready to distribute, make a list of all employees, unions, or subcontractors that may need to be notified, prepare a disinfection or safety plan, and create training and checklists for supervisors and managers covering the new requirements. It is essential for contractors to prepare in advance so that they can meet the 24-hour notice requirement in the event there is an exposure event. In an effort to assist with this, a draft notice can be found HERE for your use.