Does My Employer Have to Say When a Coworker has Coronavirus?

shutterstock_1712819545-300x200In the early stages of the pandemic, it was up to the employees themselves to keep track of Covid-19 cases. Now, it is the  employers’ turn to let their employees know about the coronavirus, thanks to a California law. The Governor passed AB 685 on September 17, 2020.  It went into effect on January 1, 2021 and expires on January 1, 2023. This law requires employers to give specific notices about Covid-19 in the workplace.

 Notice Requirements for COVID-19 the workplace

California employers must provide their employees with written notice within 1 business day of getting notification of potential exposure of Covid-19. All employees (and employers of any subcontracted employees) who were at the common worksite as the worker who was diagnosed with Covid-19 during the infectious period must be notified.

The Infectious Period

For a worker who has symptoms, the infectious period starts 2 days before they first develop symptoms. The infectious period ends when the following occurs:

  • It has been 10 days since symptoms first appeared; and
  • At least 24 hours have passed with no fever present (without use of fever-reducing medication); and
  • Other symptoms have improved.

For a worker who tested positive, but who doesn’t display symptoms, the infectious period for the coronavirus begins 2 days before and ends 10 days after the specimen for their first positive test for Covid-19 was collected.

How the Notice Must be Given

The notice must be written in both English and in any other language that a majority of the workers understand. However, the notice can’t identify the name of any employee who has tested positive for Covid-19, in order to maintain their privacy. The notice should be communicated to the workers via means that are typical for their communication and can be delivered in the following ways:

  • Hand delivered (personal service)
  • Email
  • Text message

Other Information that Employers Must Disclose to Employees

Besides telling the workers about the exposure, the employers must also provide employees with information about the disinfectant and safety plans and protocols that follow CDC guidelines that will be used to eliminate any additional exposure.

Employers must also notify employees about Covid-19 benefits available under local, state, and federal laws. This includes the following:

  • Coronavirus-related leave
  • Company sick leave
  • State-mandated leave
  • Supplemental sick leave
  • Workers compensation benefits
  • Anti-retaliation protection
  • Anti-discrimination protection

Notification to the Local Health Department

In addition to notifying employees, the employer must inform the local health department of any Covid-19 outbreaks. It’s considered an outbreak if there are 3 or more Covid-19 cases among employees at the same worksite (a non-health care workplace) within a 14-day period.

After this threshold has been met, the employer has 48 hours to report it to the local health department in the jurisdiction where the workplace is located. An employer is required to notify the health department of any additional cases of Covid among employees at the worksite.

 Discuss Employer Disclosures about Covid with an Attorney

Although vaccine availability continues to rise, there is still a lot of concern about contracting the virus. Now that employers are obligated to keep you in the loop, you can hold them accountable. If you’re worried that your employer isn’t complying with the law or may be retaliating against you, talk to an experienced attorney. Here at Walton Law APC, we have skilled lawyers ready to provide you with strong representation. Contact us immediately to learn more about what we can do for you.

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