Employers have new COVID-19 responsibilities under four new laws in California. Specifically, these new laws cover notifying employees of potential COVID-19 exposures, reporting of positive test results, personal protective equipment for healthcare workers, and training for agricultural employees. Two are in effect now, while the other two take effect on January 1, 2021. 

Written notice requirement

Assembly Bill 685 (AB 685) requires you to provide your employees and union representatives with written notification of a potential COVID-19 exposure within one business day of learning about that potential exposure. You must also notify employers of subcontractors who were at the worksite at the time of the potential exposure, within the same one-day time period.

Written notification may be via email, text message, hand-delivered note, or letter. In addition:

  • The notice must be written in both English and the language understood by the majority of your employees.
  • The notice must also let your employees know about your workplace’s prevention program and disinfection protocols.

It should be noted that the statute uses some specific definitions that govern when notice must be provided. You should review them carefully when determining when to notify employees.

AB 685 gives Cal/OSHA the authority to shut down parts of a business or the entire operation if it determines an imminent hazard exists at that workplace due to COVID-19 exposure. This law takes effect January 1.