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California and Reporting of COVID-19 Cases?

As the pandemic continues, most workplaces continue to operate in some capacity, and it is important to understand whether they must contact state health authorities in the event an employee tests positive for COVID-19.

The CDC states that the authority to require notification of cases of disease resides in the respective state legislatures. Similarly, local and county regulations may apply as well.


California Reporting

On September 17, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 685 which requires the state to track COVID-19 cases in the workplace closely. The law went into effect on January 1st 2021, and requires employers to report COVID-19 cases to both fellow employees and local officials. Here is a summary of the requirements.

Notifying Employees

Employees must be notified within a business day of potential exposure from a confirmed case in the workplace. Employers should provide written notice to the following:

  • All employees and subcontracted employees/their employers that may have been on the worksite during the exposure.
  • Any third parties on site.
  • Unions, employee reps, and sometimes attorneys that may represent employees.

Additionally, employers must include written notice of any COVID-19 related leave benefits or programs available to employees, along with information regarding the organization’s disinfection protocols in place to help mitigate the spread of the outbreak.

The written notices may be provided via e-mail, text, or mail and should be in both English and any other language understood by the majority of the workforce.

Notifying Health officials

California employers that are regularly required to record work-related fatalities, injuries & illnesses with the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), must record a work-related COVID-19 case. Industries required to report to OSHA include but are not limited to general hospitals, urban transit systems, couriers/delivery services, schools and more. To be recordable, a case must have resulted in one of the following:

  • Death
  • Having to miss days away from work
  • Restricted work or transfer to another job
  • Medical treatment beyond first aid
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Significant injury or illness diagnosed by a physician or other licensed health care professional

Cases should generally be confirmed through testing however, due to test shortages a test is not necessarily needed to confirm a case. Additionally, a case is considered to be work-related if it has resulted from an event or an exposure that occurred in a work environment.

Similarly, workplace-related outbreaks which are considered to be at least three probable or confirmed COVID-19 cases within 14 days in people who are epidemiologically-linked but from different households by the California Department of Public Health, must be reported within 48 hours of learning of the outbreak to them.

The situation is ongoing and everchanging. It is encouraged to double-check with local officials and the CDC for up-to-date and accurate information for your area.

Is there anything Payroll Systems can help you with as you accommodate rapid legislation changes? Reach out and talk to us about the easy-to-scale solutions you need for your business.

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This article provides general information and shouldn’t be construed as legal or HR advice. Since employment laws may change over time and can vary by location and industry, please consult a lawyer or HR expert for advice specific to your business. You can also contact Payroll Systems to inquire about our HR support services.