September 30, 2020 is the deadline for Governor Newsom to sign into law all bills passed by the Legislature this year. The Governor has not waited until the deadline to begin signing a few employment related bills into law already. Yesterday, the Governor signed AB 685 and SB 1159 into law. AB 685 requires employers to notify workers of potential exposure to COVID-19 and SB 1159 creates a presumption that a covered worker who contracted COVID-19 contracted the virus at work and it is work related illness for workers compensation purposes.
This Friday’s Five is a quick overview of about AB 685 and SB 1159, and information about my firm’s webinar reviewing key California employment laws signed by the Governor (and other employment law updates). My Firm’s webinar will take place on Friday October 2, 2020 at 10 a.m. PDT (registration is here and more information below).
1. AB 685 – Notice to employees of potential COVID-19 exposure
AB 685 take effect on January 1, 2021 and will expire in two years on January 1, 2022.
If an employer receives a notice of potential exposure to COVID-19, the employer must within one day provide written notice to all employees and subcontracted employee who were on the premises at the same worksite within the “infectious period.” The notice must contain information about what COVID-19 related benefits the employee is entitled to under federal, state, and local laws, and the employer’s disinfection and safety plan. Employers are required to keep a copy of all notices provided to employees for three years.
2. AB 685 – Local Health Department notice requirements
Under the new law, ff the employer is notified of a number of COVID-19 cases that meet the definition of a COVID-19 outbreak as defined by the State Department of Public Health, the employer has 48 hours to notify the local public health agency.
3. SB 1159 – Workers’ Compensation COVID-19 Presumption
SB 1159 takes effect immediately (September 17, 2020) and expires on January 1, 2023. SB 1159 creates a rebuttable presumption that an employee contracted COVID-19 at work if they have tested positive or is diagnosed with COVID-19 within 14 days after a day that the employee worked at the employee’s place of employment. The bill does set forth that the “place of employment” does not include an employee’s residence if they are working at home.
4. SB 1159 – Workers Comp Presumption – Covered Workers
SB 1159 sets forth specific types of workers that the law covers (such as active firefighting members, Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, peace officers, and fire and rescue service coordinators). For other employees, the law applies if there is an “outbreak at the employee’s specific place of employment.” An outbreak exists if:
- For employers with 100 or fewer employees at a specific place of employment if 4 employees test positive for COVID-19
- For employers with more than 100 employees at a specific place of employment if 4 percent of the number of employees who reported to the specific place of employment tested positive for COVID-19
- If the specific place of employment is ordered closed by a local health department, State Department of Public Health, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, or a school superintendent.
5. Register for our webinar discussing the new employment facing California employers into 2021.
My firm is conducting a webinar on October 2, 2020 at 10 a.m. to review the critical new laws signed by the Governor (including more details about AB 685 and SB 1159), recap other COVID-19 employment legal requirements in place on the Federal, state, and local levels, and provide some other reminders about minimum wage increase and sexual harassment training requirements in 2021.
This webinar is essential for company executives and human resources personnel in learning what the employment landscape and employer obligations are for the remainder of 2020 and into 2021. Reserve your seat early as the webinar has a limited number of registrants, and this event is likely to hit our maximum capacity (clients of the Firm will receive priority for attendance).