These laws aim to protect employees who may be exposed to COVID-19 at work
Since the novel coronavirus first reached the United States, more than 220,000 Americans have died and nearly 8 million people have been infected. California has been particularly hard-hit by the virus, despite measures intended to curb community spread.
While many employees have been able to work from home during the pandemic, others are required to physically go to their work location. For these employees, the possibility of contracting COVID-19 is a constant fear. According to a California employment attorney, a trio of new employment laws related to COVID-19 may help to assuage some of these concerns.
First, Assembly Bill 1867 (AB 1867) requires employers to provide their California-based employees with up to 80 hours of supplemental paid sick leave for COVID-19. This leave is available to those employees who are not covered by the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, or a previous executive order regarding paid COVID-19 sick leave. This law went into effect for employees outside of the food sector on September 19, 2020, and will terminate on December 31, 2020, or when any extension of the federal law expires.
Under this law, all California employees who work for a covered employer qualify for this paid sick leave if they are (1) under a quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19; (2) they are advised by a healthcare provider to quarantine or isolate due to COVID-19; or (3) the employee is prohibited from working by the employer due to concerns related to COVID-19. Full-time employees can take up to 80 hours of paid sick leave, while part-time employees are eligible for a lower amount of paid leave based on the hours that they work. This leave is in addition to any ordinary paid sick leave, and employees cannot be required to use their paid or unpaid time off before or instead of this leave.
Second, Senate Bill 1159 (SB 1159) provides a new framework for workers’ compensation claims related to COVID-19. Under SB 1159, there is a presumption that an illness or death resulting from COVID-19 arose out of and in the course of employment, if the employee tested positive or was diagnosed within 14 days of working at their place of employment and the test was during an outbreak at their place of employment. The law will make it easier for employees who contract COVID-19 to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. This law went into effect on September 17, 2020, and will remain in effect until January 1, 2023.
Third, Assembly Bill 685 (AB 685) creates notice and recordkeeping requirements for COVID-19 cases in the workplace. Within 1 business day of a notice of potential exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace, employers must provide written notice to all employees who were on the same worksite, provide employees who may have been exposed with information about COVID-19 related benefits, and notify all employees of the disinfection and safety plan that the company plans to implement.
These laws are meant to protect employees and ensure that they get the help that they need if they are exposed to the coronavirus at work. At PLBSH, we represent employees on a range of employment and labor law issues, including retaliation, workers’ compensation and discrimination. If you need help, we are here for you. Contact our law firm today at (800) 435-7542 or email@example.com to schedule a consultation with a California employment attorney.