Cal/OSHA Issues Revised COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards

On June 17th, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Heath (Cal/OSHA) adopted a revised set of proposed revisions to the COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards. They took effect immediately.
Here are the major changes in the revised regulations:
Testing and Quarantine. Fully vaccinated employees do not need to be tested or quarantined following close contact with COVID-19 cases, unless they exhibit symptoms. As a result, employers are only required to offer paid testing and time off for testing for the following employees:
  • Symptomatic, unvaccinated employees;
  • Unvaccinated employees after an exposure to a COVID-19 case;
  • Vaccinated employees after an exposure, if they develop symptoms;
  • Unvaccinated employees in an “outbreak” (defined as 3 + cases in a group);
  • All employees in a “major outbreak” (defined as 20+ cases in a group).
Physical Distancing. The revised regulations remove any physical distancing or barrier requirements, regardless of employee vaccination status, with one exception: if the worksite has a “major outbreak” (20+ cases in a single employee group). By contrast, if the worksite has an “outbreak” (3+ cases), the employer must evaluate whether to enforce distancing or barriers.
Face Covering. Vaccinated employees are exempt from wearing face coverings indoors, EXCEPT: (1) in “outbreak” situations (3+ cases) when distancing cannot be maintained; and/or (2) in those settings in which the Cal. Dept. of Public Health (CDPH) requires face coverings: schools, youth settings, public transit, healthcare settings (including long term care facilities), prisons, shelters and cooling centers. Employers must document vaccination record and it must be kept confidential.
Unvaccinated workers must still wear face covering, except when: (1) outdoors; (2) alone in a vehicle; (3) eating or drinking; (4) when disability or religious-related accommodation is required; or (5) when job duties make covering infeasible.
Respirators/N95s. Employers must make respirators/N95 masks available to unvaccinated employees upon request.
Air Filtration. Employers must evaluate ventilation systems to maximize outdoor air and increase filtration efficiency.
Still Required. Employers are still required to:
  • Maintain a written COVID-19 Prevention Program;
  • Provide effective training how to use the Prevention Program;
  • Notify the public health department of “outbreaks”;
  • Notify employees of exposure and close contacts;
  • Offer testing to employees after potential exposure.
Learn More

Calif. Governor Signs Employment Laws Related to COVID-19 Exposure

On September 17, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law two critical pieces of legislation. Assembly Bill (AB) 685, which imposes certain notification obligations on employers when one or more employees test positive for COVID-19, takes effect January 1, 2021. Senate Bill (SB) 1159 expands employees’ rights to workers’ compensation benefits and also imposes a significant new reporting deadline when an employee tests positive for COVID-19. SB 1159 takes effect immediately.

AB 685 Notice Requirements

Assembly Bill 685 imposes important notification requirements when employers discover that one or more employees have been diagnosed with COVID-19. More specifically, the new law sets forth the following notice requirements:

Within one (1) business day of a “potential exposure” based on a confirmed case of COVID-19 in a workplace, an employer must:

• Provide written notice to all employees, employers of subcontracted employees and employee representatives, including unions who were at the worksite within the infectious period who may have been exposed o COVID-19.

• Provide written notice to employees and/or their representatives regarding COVID-19-related benefits that employees may receive, including workers’ compensation benefits, COVID leave, paid sick leave and the employer’s anti-discrimination, anti-harassment and anti-retaliation policies.

• Provide notice to employees regard the employer’s disinfection protocols and safety plan.

Written notice under the law may be made by personal delivery, text message and/or email, provided that it can be reasonably anticipated to be received within one (1) business day. It must also be in English and the language understood by the majority of employees.

AB 685 also requires employers who have a sufficient number of COVID-19 positive cases that meet the definition of a COVID-19 outbreak (as defined by the Cal. State Dept. of Health), to report certain information to the employer’s local health agency within forty-eight (48) hours of learning of the outbreak.

The requirements of AB 685 do not apply when the employee(s) who test positive for COVID-19 work remotely. Again, AB 685 takes effect January 1, 2021.

SB 1159 – Disputable Presumption

SB 1159 has two important components related to employees who test positive for COVID-19. First, it creates a “disputable presumption” that an illness or death resulting from COVID-19 arose out of and in the course and scope of employment for workers’ compensation purposes. This presumption covers cases in which the worker tested positive from July 6, 2020 through January 1, 2023. Thereafter, the presumption will no longer apply.

In order for the presumption to apply: (1) the positive test for COVID-19 must occur within 14 days after a day that the employee worked at the employer’s place of employment; (2) the day of work was on or after July 6, 2020; and (3) the positive test must have occurred during a period of an outbreak at the employee’s place of employment.

Important for this presumption, an “outbreak” exists if, within 14 days, one of the following occurs at the place of employment: (1) if the employer has <100 employees at a specific site, 4 employees test positive for COVID-19; (2) if the employer has >100 employees, 4% of the employees test positive for COVID-19; (3) a specific place of employment is ordered to close by a local public health department, the State Dept. of Public Health, Div. of Occupational Safety and Health or a school superintendent due to a risk of infection with COVID-19.

SB 1159 – Reporting Requirements

SB 1159 also creates new reporting requirements. When an employer knows or reasonably should know that an employee has tested positive for COVID-19, the employer must report that fact to its workers’ compensation claims administrator within three (3) business days, via email or fax.

The information to be reported includes: (1) that an employee has tested positive (no personally identifiable information regarding the employee, unless he/she asserts the infection is work-related or has filed a claim); (2) the date the employee tested positive; (3) the address of the specific place of work during the 14-day period preceding the positive test; and (4) the highest number of employees who reported to work at the employee’s specific place of employment in the 45-day period preceding the last day the employee worked at each specific place of employment.

What Employers Should Do Now

Employers should immediately become familiar with these new requirements. Employers with any questions about these new laws should contact their employment law professional.

The Law Offices of Alex Craigie helps employers throughout California prevent, address and resolve employment disputes in a logical and cost-effective manner. Reach us at (323) 652-9451, (805) 845-1752 or at [email protected]

Learn More
Follow

Follow this blog

Get every new post delivered right to your inbox.

Email address