The emergence of COVID-19 has changed the world as we once knew it; therefore, it should come as no surprise that the virus would impact employment law as well. California’s ever-changing employment laws will have employers scrambling to keep up in 2021! The employment law attorneys at Schneiders & Associates are prepared to help! Below are some of the significant changes related to COVID-19 that employers should look out for as we head into the new year.

SB 1159: COVID-19 Workers’ Compensation

SB 1159 provides that if a California employee tests positive for COVID-19 during an “outbreak” at the employee’s worksite (not including the employee’s home), the employee may be awarded workers’ compensation benefits, including full hospital, surgical, and medical treatment. Compensation is based on the presumption that the employee contracted COVID-19 at work. It is now the burden of the employer to disprove that claim.

AB 685: COVID-19 Reporting

AB 685 establishes employer reporting and noticing requirements upon notice of a potential exposure to COVID-19 at the workplace. Employers are required to provide notice to employees who were potentially exposed to COVID-19 within one business day of receiving notice of a COVID -19 exposure.

Employers are also required to notify their local public health agency within 48 hours of a COVID-19 “outbreak” (3 or more cases within a 2-week period).

Cal/OSHA can issue an Order Prohibiting Use (OPU) to shut down a worksite that exposes employees to an imminent hazard related to COVID-19 and can issue citations for serious COVID-19 violations without giving prior notice.

AB 1947: Extended Time Period to File a DLSE Claim

AB 1947 amends existing labor law, which prohibits discrimination or retaliation against employees who complain about Labor Code violations or other violations of law, to provide for a longer time for employees to report complaints and file a claim with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) – extending the deadline from 6 months to one year. Any person who believes that they have been discharged or otherwise discriminated against in violation of any labor law may now file a complaint with the DLSE within one year after the occurrence of the violation.

AB 1867: Supplemental Paid Sick Leave

AB 1867 expands supplemental paid sick leave for COVID-19-related reasons for employers not covered by the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), insuring every employee has access to paid sick days if they are exposed or test positive for COVID-19, including health care providers and first responders that are excluded from the FFCRA.

Employees who work for covered employers can take COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave if the worker is:

• Subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;

• Advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine or self-isolate due to concerns related to COVID-19; or

• Prohibited from working by the employer due to health concerns related to the potential transmission of COVID-19.

Employees working from home are not eligible for supplemental paid sick leave.

AB 2043: Occupational Safety and Health – Agricultural Employers and Employees

AB 2043 requires employers to disseminate information on best practices for COVID-19 infection prevention to agricultural employees, in both English and Spanish. The bill also requires that Cal/OSHA work with employers and employees on outreach campaigns targeting agricultural employees.

AB 2537 and SB 275: PPE Requirement

AB 2537 and SB 275 require that employers provide certain employees with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and maintain a three-month stockpile of PPE.

In addition to COVID-19 related employment law updates, there are several other employment law changes that the anticipated new year will bring! Mark your calendar for Friday, January 22 at 8:30 a.m., when our employment law experts will discuss the new employment law changes in 2021, via Zoom.

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