AB-654 went into effect immediately on October 5, 2021, and will expire on January 1, 2023. The law amends California Labor Code Section 6325 and amends and repeals Labor Code section 6409.6 relating to occupational safety and notice requirements about COVID-19 in the workplace.
Below is an outline of an employers’ notice requirements as well as duties to report exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace.
- If you receive an OSHA that your place of employment, operation, or process, poses an imminent risk to workers of exposure to infection with COVID-19, resulting in OSHA prohibiting entry to the place of employment or prohibiting the risky operation or process, you must post the OSHA notice in a conspicuous place at the place of employment and may not be removed except by an authorized OSHA representative.
- If you receive notice of potential exposure to COVID-19, the employer must do the following within one business day of the notice of potential exposure:
- Provide a written notice of potential exposure to 1. All employees; and 2. employers of subcontracted employees who were at the same worksite as the employee who tested positive, is ordered to quarantine or died of COVID-19 (“qualifying individual”), within the infectious period. Notice must be provided in the manner that the employer usually uses to communicate employment-related information (i.e. email, text, in-person) as long as it is anticipated that the employee will receive the message within 1 business day.
- Give all employees who were on the premises at the same worksite as the qualifying individual within the infectious period with information regarding COVID-19-related benefits to which the employee may be entitled under applicable federal, state, or local laws, including, but not limited to, workers’ compensation, and options for exposed employees, including COVID-19-related leave, company sick leave, state-mandated leave, supplemental sick leave, or negotiated leave provisions, as well as anti-retaliation and anti-discrimination protections of the employee.
- Notify all employees who were on the premises at the same worksite as the qualifying individual within the infectious period, and the employers of subcontracted employees of the cleaning and disinfection plan that the employer is implementing per the guidelines of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the COVID-19 prevention program per the Cal-OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards.
- If there is an outbreak (3 or more COVID-19 cases at a worksite within 14-days), notify the local public health agency in the jurisdiction of the worksite within 48 hours or 1 business day, whichever is later.
- NOTE: This reporting requirement does not apply to health facilities, clinics, adult day health centers, home health agencies, hospice, residential care facility, or child day care facility.
- An employer shall not require employees to disclose medical information unless otherwise required by law.
- An employer shall not retaliate against a worker for disclosing a positive COVID-19 test or diagnosis or order to quarantine or isolate.
- Employers must maintain records of written notifications for at least 3 years.
Here are some useful definitions provided by the statute:
- “Close contact” means being within six feet of a COVID-19 case for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more in any 24-hour period within or overlapping with the high-risk exposure period regardless of the use of face coverings.
- “High-risk exposure period” means either of the following time periods:
- (A) For persons who develop COVID-19 symptoms, from 2 days before they first develop symptoms until 10 days after the symptoms first appeared, and until 24 hours have passed with no fever, without the use of fever-reducing medications and symptoms have improved.
- (B) For persons who test positive who never develop COVID-19 symptoms, from 2 days before until 10 days after the specimen for their first positive test for COVID-19 was collected.
As employers it is up to you to know your notice requirements when it comes to COVID-19 exposure in the workplace. Since the deadline to provide notices is quite short, employers should have the following notices prepared, if they do not already exist:
- Information regarding COVID-19-related benefits that are available to your employees; and
- A written disinfection plan that could be distributed to employees and employers of subcontracted workers.
Additionally, employers should have a tracking system of reported cases of COVID-19 to ensure that you are able to identify an outbreak and comply with the outbreak reporting requirements.