Many people may feel that the COVID pandemic is on its way out, as vaccinations have become more widespread and more people have some immunity from previous exposure to the virus. However, experts warn that society is far from the end of the crisis. With this in mind, California legislators have enacted some new labor laws that will require employers to keep the virus in their minds, and in company policies, for some time to come.
New Reporting Requirements For Potential Exposure In The Workplace
Under the new amendments, California employers are required to notify their employees within one day of becoming aware of a potential exposure at the worksite. The company must also notify the union representative, if applicable. If there are three or more confirmed or probable cases in the workplace, the employer must report the outbreak to the local health department.
Companies’ reporting obligations arise when the employer becomes aware of a case of COVID-19 in a “qualifying individual,” which is defined as an employee who has:
- been confirmed to have a positive case by laboratory testing or by diagnosis by a licensed health care provider;
- received an isolation order from a public health official; or
- died due to COVID-19.
The reporting requirements are both thorough and immediate when the company learns of exposure in the workplace. Within one business day of learning of the potential exposure, the employer must notify all employees about it. If there were any subcontracted workers at the worksite during the time that any employee was in the infectious period of the virus, the company also must notify the workers’ employer, which may be a staffing agency.
The notice must be in writing in English and, if applicable, in the non-English language understood by a majority of workers. It must state the dates that the infected worker was at the site, but it cannot identify the individual by name or with any information that could give away the person’s identity.
In addition to providing written notice of the exposure, the employer must supply employees with information regarding benefits that they may be entitled to use, as well as options for COVID-related leave, worker’s compensation, and paid sick leave if they have been exposed. They also are required to inform the workers of anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation policies that protect employees when they use those benefits. Finally, the employer must explain the company’s disinfection and safety plan to the employees to prevent additional exposure, as per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance.
Notifying The Union
If the company’s workers are unionized, the employer must notify the union representative of the workers’ potential exposure. As with notifying the employees, the employer is required to do this within one day of becoming aware of the COVID-19 case.
Reporting To The Health Department
Unlike with the other required reports, the company only must report to the local health department if there is an “outbreak” of COVID cases at that worksite. The CDC defines the term “outbreak” as three or more confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 in the workplace within a 14-day period. The cases must be from different households. Also, they cannot be identified as a close contact in any other COVID-19 case investigation. Once the employer is aware of an outbreak, they have 48 hours to report the outbreak to the health department.
California Attorneys Who Represent Employers
Mohajerian Law Corporation has more than two decades of experience helping California employers in all types of labor and employment matters including regulatory compliance, execution of legal contracts and policies, and litigation. Our knowledgeable employer-side attorneys are here for you and will help ensure that your business’s interests and rights are protected. Contact Mohajerian Law Corporation by calling (310) 556-3800 or by contacting us online.