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Recent Legislative Updates on COVID-19 (AB 685 and SB 1159)

COVID-19 has presented businesses with a number of challenges this year, but Pinnacle’s team of experts is here to help keep you informed. Governor Newsom recently signed two pieces of COVID-related legislation (AB 685 and SB 1159) into law. These changes will affect employer obligations regarding COVID-19 exposure reporting requirements and worker’s compensation. Below is a breakdown of the new bills that will affect your workforce.

Assembly Bill 685 (AB 685)
California’s AB 685, effective January 1, 2021, requires employers to notify all employees who were at a worksite of all potential exposures to COVID-19 and notify the local public health agency of outbreaks. It also permits Cal-OSHA to close workplaces that “constitute an imminent hazard to employees” due to COVID-19.

You can read the full legislation here: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201920200AB685

Senate Bill 1159 (SB 1159)

A new California law, Senate Bill 1159, requires employers to report employees’ positive COVID-19 diagnoses. Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order earlier this year creating a rebuttable presumption that employee COVID-19 cases contracted between March 19th – July 5th are work-related if the employee was working at an employer location or worked outside of his or her home at the direction of their employer. On September 17, 2020, Governor Newsom signed a new law, Senate Bill 1159, that creates a rebuttable presumption that applies after July 6, 2020 to employers with five or more employees. Under the new law, there is a rebuttable presumption that an infection is work-related if the positive test occurred while the employee was working during a period of outbreak.

If you know (or should have known) that an employee tests positive for COVID-19, you must:

1. Provide notification in writing to your workers’ compensation claims administrator within three business days that an employee tested positive, including the:

  • Date of the positive test;
  • Specific location of the worksite during the 14-day period preceding the positive test; and
  • Highest number of employees reporting to work at that location during the 45-day period preceding the last day the employee worked. Failure to submit this information may result in a civil penalty of up to $10,000.

2. Provide written notice to employees who were at the same worksite during the infectious period informing them that they may have been exposed. Notice must be provided within one business day.

3. Provide notice to the public health agency in the jurisdiction of the worksite within 48 hours of the identities of those employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been ordered to isolate due to possible exposure.

You can read the full legislation here: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201920200SB1159

Our team of experts are here to assist. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the new legislation, please contact us.

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