COVID-19 Exposure Law
On September 17, 2020, Governor Newsom signed AB 685 into law, which goes into effect on January 1, 2021 and expires on January 1, 2023. The law requires that healthcare employees — who DO NOT conduct COVID-19 testing or screening or provide direct care to patients known or suspected to be COVID-positive — be notified of potential exposure to anyone known or presumed to be COVID-positive in the specific location where they work; protects them from retaliation from reporting positive cases; and ensures that they are made aware of sick leave and other benefits. The law applies to healthcare employees.
For health care employees who DO conduct COVID testing or screening, or provide direct care to patients known or suspected to be COVID-positive, the above provisions apply ONLY if the person known or presumed to be COVID-positive to whom they have been exposed is another employee in the specific location where they work. Note that unlike several other recent employee COVID-protection laws, AB 685 does not include environmental services and dietary workers who normally work in close quarters with COVID-positive patients in the same category as direct care employees, so unless or until this discrepancy is clarified in implementing regulations, these workers technically will be entitled to enhanced notice of some kind.
This law also empowers CalOSHA to issue citations more quickly and shut down worksites where COVID-19 presents an imminent threat.
If you have any questions related to COVID-19 and your workplace, please contact us at COVID19@nuhw.org.