Newsom signs COVID-19 Related Bills for Workers’ Compensation and Employee Notification

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Today, the Governor signed SB 1159 (Hill) and AB 685 (Reyes). Below is a description of the bills.

SB 1159 (Hill) codifies the Governor’s executive action stating if an employee before July 6 contracted COVID it would be presumed to have occurred at work. For situations after July 6 the bill narrows the Governor’s executive action to say for certain front-line health care workers such as firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, physicians and nurses in certain health facilities (general acute care hospitals, acute psychiatric hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, intermediate care facilities, hospice facilities) who tested positive the presumption would continue to be they contracted COVID at work.

For employees who are not covered by the above, the presumption would apply if there was an “outbreak” at the employer. Outbreak is defined as:

• 5% of the workforce tested positive for employers with 100 or more employees, or
• More than 5 employees test positive for employers with less than 100 employees

AB 685 (Reyes) – This bill requires employers to take the following actions within one business day upon notification of an employee testing positive including:

• Provide written notice to all employees;
• Provide all employees who have been exposed with information regarding all COVID-19 related benefits the employee may be entitled;
• Notify all employees on disinfection and safety plan the employer plans to implement per CDC guidelines

The bill also requires, if three workers test positive within 14 days, which is the Public Health definition of an outbreak, the employer must report to local public health department.

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