CHA News

Gov. Newsom Signs COVID-19 Workplace Outbreak Employee Notification Legislation

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On Sept. 18, Gov. Newsom signed Assembly Bill 685 (Reyes, D-Grand Terrace), requiring employers to provide notice to employees and their representatives when an employee has been exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace. The law goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2021.   

On June 16, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued guidance to local health departments, including a checklist to assist workplaces experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks. CDPH recommends employers notify all employees who were potentially exposed to individuals with COVID-19. However, notable outbreaks occurred in specific workplaces, such as food distribution facilities where hundreds of employees became infected, which served as the impetus for this legislation. 

Given that caring, treating, testing, and/or screening for patients who have or are under investigation, quarantine, or isolation for COVID-19 is happening regularly within the hospital or clinical setting, in particular, CHA secured amendments to provide an exception from the notification requirements under these circumstances.   

In addition, the law allows Cal/OSHA to use an expedited process for citing serious violations related to COVID-19.  Because the new law will require adoption of new policies and procedures, it is recommended that hospitals begin preparation in advance of the Jan. 1 effective date. CHA has developed an on-demand educational video explaining the law for members, and it will be included in CHA’s upcoming labor and employment legislative update webinar on Oct. 29 from 10 a.m. to noon (PT).