Effective January 1, 2021, less than two weeks from today, California employers will be required under Assembly Bill (AB) 685 to provide detailed notices to employees when there is a COVID-19 case in the workplace and to notify local public health departments of COVID-19 “outbreaks” in the workplace. Effective for two-years until January 1, 2023, AB 685 specifically authorizes Cal/OSHA to shutdown a worksite that is deemed to constitute an “imminent hazard to employees” by exposing workers to COVID-19. Safe Site Check In’s solution provides our California customers with AB 685 compliance as shown in this short video.
Under AB 685, employers are required to provide certain workforce notifications within one business day of receiving a “notice of potential exposure.” A “notice of potential exposure” means any of the following:
- Notification from a public health official or licensed medical provider that an employee was exposed to a “qualifying individual” at the worksite;
- Notification from an employee or his/her emergency contact that the employee is a “qualifying individual”;
- Notification through the testing protocol of the employer that the employee is a “qualifying individual”; or
- Notification from a subcontracted employer that a “qualifying individual” was on the worksite.
Within one business day of receiving a notice of potential exposure, an employer must take all of the following actions:
- Provide written notice to all employees, and to the employers of subcontracted employees, “who were on the premises at the same worksite as the qualifying individual within the infectious period that they may have been exposed” to COVID-19. The notice should be hand delivered or sent by email or text, so long as the notice can reasonably be anticipated to be received by the employee within one business day of sending, and it must be in English and in the language understood by the majority of the employees. The notice should not share information that could identify the individual with COVID-19, although CDPH guidance indicates that the notice may inform employees of the dates that the individual with COVID-19 was at the worksite.
- Provide written notice to the exclusive representative (e.g., union representative), if any, of the employees referenced above. The written notice to the exclusive representative must contain the same information that would be required in an incident report in a Cal/OSHA Form 300 injury and illness log, unless the information is inapplicable or unknown to the employer.
- Provide employees and their exclusive representative (if any) with information regarding COVID-19-related benefits to which the employee may be entitled under federal, state, or local laws, such as workers’ compensation, COVID-19-related leave, company sick leave, state-mandated leave, supplemental sick leave, or negotiated leave provisions, as well as anti-retaliation and anti-discrimination protections; and
- Inform all employees and their exclusive representative (if any), and the employers of subcontracted employees, about the disinfection and safety plan that the employer plans to implement and complete per federal Centers for Disease Control guidelines.
“Qualifying individual” includes a person who: (1) has a laboratory-confirmed positive viral test for COVID-19; (2) has a positive COVID-19 diagnosis from a licensed health care provider; (3) is ordered to isolate by a public health official; or (4) has died from COVID-19.
A “worksite” is defined as “the building, store, facility, agricultural field, or other location where a worker worked during the infectious period” but does not include buildings, floors, or other locations that the individual with COVID-19 did not enter. Furthermore, “[i]n a multiworksite environment, the employer need only notify employees who were at the same worksite as the qualified individual.”
For more details, please check out California Department of Public Health (CDPH) guidance on AB 685, including FAQs and definitions.
AB 685 may present particular challenges for employers with large workforces or large or complex worksites. Thus, we recommend all employers should immediately begin planning to ensure they will be ready to comply by January 1. We can help you be compliant at every one of your workplaces in just 5 minutes!