We’re all in this together
In the face of COVID-19, all employers should want to keep workers and their families safe. And yet, the rights of employees and employers can be confusing. Use the guidance below to determine what is best for you, your family, and your workplace.
Workers’ Compensation: Employees in California may be entitled to workers’ compensation if they test positive for COVID-19 or if their place of employment experiences an “outbreak” of COVID-19 as defined by legislation signed into law Sept. 17 by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Under the new law, employers have specific reporting requirements to determine whether the levels of positive testing meet the definition of an outbreak. See, https://www.labor.ca.gov/coronavirus2019/ for more detail.
California Sick Leave Law: California has implemented a broad supplemental sick leave law requiring employers with 500 or more employees (and health care employers with fewer than 500 employees) to provide California workers with up to 80 hours of paid COVID-19-related sick leave. Another new California law creates a presumption that employees’ COVID-19-related illnesses or deaths are covered injuries for purposes of workers’ compensation, under certain circumstances. Effective January 1, 2021, California employers will also be subject to new notice and recordkeeping requirements with respect to COVID-19 cases in the workplace.
Reporting: Employers are responsible for reporting information about positive COVID-19 tests to their workers’ compensation claims administrator within specified time frames and on an ongoing basis for a long as the law is in effect. All employee-positive COVID-19 results must be reported regardless of whether the employer learns or believes the employee contracted the virus from work or outside of the workplace. Upon identifying a COVID-19 case in the workplace, Employers should provide the following information:
1. Notice to employees and the employer of subcontracted workers that they may have been exposed to COVID-19. Dates of the potential contagion can be shared but not information that could identify the affected individual. Employers should provide this information to the exclusive labor representative, if any.
2. Information about benefits & options: Employers are well advised to provide employees with information about COVID-19 benefits under federal, state, or local laws. This includes workers’ compensation, company sick leave, state-mandated leave, supplemental sick leave, negotiated leave, and anti-retaliation and anti-discrimination protections.
3. A disinfection & safety plan: Employers should inform employees of the relevant disinfection and safety plan for the worksite, in accordance with CDC guidelines. Employers should also provide this information to the exclusive labor representative, if any.
Our understanding of COVID-19 is ever-changing and we encourage you to contact us immediately with any questions about how these or other laws may effect you.