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Required Notice of Potential Exposure to COVID-19

June 22, 2021 11698


AB 685, which becomes effective Jan. 1, 2021, adds Section 6409.6 to the California Labor Code requiring employers to notify employees of a potential worksite exposure and to notify the local public health agency should an outbreak occur on the worksite.

Employee notification

The law requires employers to provide written “Notice of Potential Exposure” within one business day 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 onset of symptoms to 14 days after last known close contact with 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.

Requirements of the notice are

  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 including Families First Coronavirus Response Act leave, supplemental sick leave 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.

Outbreak notification

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.


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