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Required Notice of Potential Exposure to COVID-19

October 05, 2022 12553

Instructions

AB 685, which became effective Jan. 1, 2021, added Section 6409.6 to the California Labor Code requiring employers to notify employees of a potential worksite exposure to COVID-19 and to notify the local public health agency should an outbreak occur on the worksite. AB 2693, effective Jan. 1, 2023, amended the law to permit alternative notification to employees. It extends the notification requirement to Jan. 1, 2024.

Employee notification through Dec. 31, 2022

Within one business day of being notified of potential exposure to COVID-19 at a work site, an employer must provide a written “Notice of Potential Exposure” to employees and, if applicable, to employers of subcontracted employees who have possibly been exposed to a “qualified individual during the infectious period (at minimum 48 hours prior to the onset of symptoms to 14 days after last known close contact with a qualified individual).” A qualified individual is defined under the law as any person with a laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19 or a positive diagnosis from a licensed health care provider or who has been required by a public health official to self-quarantine or has died as a result of COVID-19. This notice can be provided in the manner that the employer typically communicates information to employees including in writing or via email or text notification.  If the employer should reasonably know that an employee has not received the notice or has limited literacy in the language used in the notice, the employer shall provide verbal notice, as soon as practicable, in a language understandable by the employee.

The notice:

  1. Must be provided in English and the language understood by the majority of the employees.
  2. Must be provided to employees’ exclusive representation, including unions and sometimes attorneys.
  3. Must provide information on employee leave options such as supplemental paid sick leave, State Disability Insurance or workers’ compensation information.
  4. Must include the company’s antiretaliation and antidiscrimination protections of the employee.
  5. Must include the employer’s disinfection and safety plan to be implemented and completed per the guidelines of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Employee notification starting Jan. 1, 2023

Within one business day of being notified of potential exposure to COVID-19 at a work site, an employer must prominently display a notice in all places where notices to employees concerning workplace rules or regulations are customarily posted. The notice must remain posted for at least 15 days and be included on an employee portal if an employee portal exists. The notice, which should be in English and the language understood by the majority of employees, must state all of the following:

  1. The dates on which an employee, or employee of a subcontracted employer, with a confirmed case of COVID-19 was on the worksite premises within the infectious period.
  2. The location of the exposures, including the department, floor, building or other area, but the location need not be so specific as to allow individual workers to be identified.
  3. Contact information for employees to receive 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 antiretaliation and antidiscrimination protections of the employee.
  4. Contact information for employees to receive the cleaning and disinfection plan that the employer is implementing per CDC guidelines and the Cal-OSHA COVID-19 regulation.

As an alternative to the posted notice, an employer may provide written notice to all employees and the employers of subcontracted employees, who were on the premises at the same time as the confirmed case of COVID-19 within the infectious period (at a minimum of 48 hours prior to the onset of symptoms to 14 days after last known close contact with the ill individual). Written notice should be provided in a manner the employer normally uses to communicate employment-related information, including, but not limited to, personal service, email, or text message if it can reasonably be anticipated to be received by the employee within one business day of sending. It should be in both English and the language understood by most of the employees.

An employer must keep a log of all the dates the notice was posted and must make it available to state labor agency representatives upon request. In addition, an employer must provide within one business day written notice to the exclusive representative, if any, of employees confirmed to have COVID-19 or who had close contact. The notice should contain the same information as required in a Cal/OSHA Form 300 incident report: employee name, job title, date of illness, location and description of illness.

Outbreak notification

As of Jan. 1, 2023, an employer is no longer required to report a COVID-19 outbreak to a local public health agency. Until that time, the procedure below must be followed.

An outbreak is defined as three or more laboratory-confirmed cases within a 14-day period and must be reported by the employer to the local public health agency within 48 hours. After an initial report of the outbreak to the public health department has been made, an employer is required to report subsequent cases on an ongoing basis. The report must include the names, phone numbers, occupations and worksite of the qualifying individuals as well as the address and NAICS code of the employer. (NAICS code for dental practices is 621210). Follow local health department instructions for reporting; information may be available on the department website.

Employers are required to maintain documentation that notice was provided to employees and the health department for three years. Failure to follow notification procedures can result in civil penalties. A customizable template for use in your practice is provided below.

Resource

California Department of Public Health Employer Questions about AB 685

 

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