August 7, 2020
A proposed California Assembly Bill 685 would require employers to quickly alert employees and health officials when a worker is exposed to coronavirus. The bill is sponsored by The California Labor Federation and United Food and Commercial Workers and opposed by business groups such as the California Chamber of Commerce.
Public or private employers would face fines up to $10,000 for failing to provide notifications of exposure within 24 hours. If the bill passes, an employer must take a series of steps when workers are exposed to coronavirus, such as contact with someone who has tested positive, have themselves been diagnosed with the virus, been quarantined under a COVID-19 order, or when someone has died because of confirmed or possible coronavirus infection.
That includes notifying those at a worksite in writing and verbally, notifying worker representatives, advising of any existing leave options for exposed employees, as well as plans to disinfect a workplace before it reopens. State health and safety authorities must be advised how many workers, and in which jobs have been tested, diagnosed positive, ordered to quarantine or died from possible coronavirus infection. Failure to provide any of the notifications would be a misdemeanor.
The bill’s authors write, “As the average age of those falling ill from COVID-19 has become younger, it is critical to track workplace exposure and to use that data to find ways to keep workers safe on the job.” The bill seeks to clarify existing law regarding employers’ reporting requirements.
For comments, questions or concerns, please contact Dennis Kaiser