California COVID-19 Employee Regulations Extended to 2023 | Perkins Coie – Update Cali

In 2022, California reauthorized assembly bills related to COVID-19. Recent legislation has expanded some employers’ obligations while relaxing others. These bills touch on many topics and address supplemental paid sick leave, testing requirements, workers’ compensation, and positive case reporting requirements.

Additional paid sick leave

Additional paid sick leave for COVID-19 was scheduled to end on September 30, 2022, but has now been extended to December 31, 2022. However, it should be noted that AB 152 does not grant additional time to employees who have used up all of their COVID-19-related leave.

Testing and additional paid sick leave

For leave related to a positive COVID-19 test, employers were already allowed to request documentation of the initial positive test and a second test five days after the first positive test. The second test must be provided to the employee free of charge. AB 152 now allows employers to request a third test free of charge for employees within 24 hours of a positive second test. Employers may deny supplemental paid sick leave to employees who refuse to provide proof of the results of the required COVID-19 test.

Employers should continue to provide supplemental paid sick leave for COVID-19 and update their COVID-19 testing policies to reflect the above requirements. As of January 1, 2023, when employers are no longer required to provide paid sick leave for COVID-19, employers will also not be required to provide employees with a second or third COVID-19 test. However, employers may be required to provide tests for COVID-19 in other situations under the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (Cal/OSHA) temporary emergency standards. More information on Cal/OSHA testing requirements can be found here.

Small Business and Nonprofit COVID-19 Grant Program

AB 152 establishes the California Small Business and Nonprofit COVID-19 Grant Program to help small businesses and nonprofits bear the costs of providing supplemental paid sick leave. Qualifying businesses can recover up to $50,000 in costs for providing additional paid sick leave to employees. The grant will apply to employees who took additional paid sick leave between January 1, 2022 and December 31, 2022.

To qualify for the program, an organization must meet All of the following requirements:

  • Incorporated as a C corporation, S corporation, cooperative, limited liability company, partnership, or limited partnership, or registered as a 501(c)(3), 501(c)(6), or 501(c)(19) organization.
  • In operation before June 1, 2021.
  • Currently in operation.
  • It employs 26 to 49 employees.

Employers are eligible for the grant until January 1, 2024.

Qualified employers should prepare the required documentation in anticipation of rolling out the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) application.

AB 1751: Workers’ compensation for contractual COVID-19

Through January 1, 2024, AB 1751 extends the rebuttable presumption of workers’ compensation coverage if employees contract COVID-19. According to this law, employees are presumed to have contracted COVID-19 on the job if there is an outbreak of infection where they work. The employer may challenge this presumption.

For the presumption to apply, the employee must have tested positive for COVID-19 within 14 days of performing work at the place of work, and the employee’s positive test must have occurred during an outbreak at the employee’s place of work. An outbreak is defined as 4% or more of the workplace workforce testing positive for COVID-19 within 14 calendar days. Another situation that is considered an outbreak is when government entities order the closure of a specific workplace due to the risk of contracting COVID-19.

An employer may rebut the presumption with evidence of (1) measures taken to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, (2) the employee’s non-work related risks of contracting COVID-19, (3) the employee’s statements, or (4) any other evidence that may rebut the presumption work-related infection.

Employers should continue to follow federal, state, and local guidelines regarding COVID-19. Employers must also continue to report positive cases of COVID-19 to their claims administrator. Along with reporting cases, employers should document any information that might rebut the workers’ compensation presumption.

AB 2693: Notification requirements

AB 2693 extends employers’ obligations to notify employees of potential exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace until January 1, 2024. However, AB 2693 relaxes some requirements for employers. Employers will no longer be required to notify their local health department. Employers may also provide disclosure of potential workplace contact with COVID-19 in lieu of individual written notice to employees.

Broadcasting in the workplace

If the employer chooses to use the post in the workplace, the employer must prominently display the post where other posts related to the regulations are usually posted, including employee portals. When posting, the employer must provide the following information:

  • Dates when an employee with a confirmed case of COVID-19 was at the workplace.
  • Place of exposure.
  • Contact information for employees seeking benefits related to COVID-19, including workers’ compensation, COVID-19-related leave, company sick leave, state-mandated leave, supplemental sick leave, and negotiated leave provisions, as well as information regarding – retaliation protection.
  • Contact information to request an employer’s cleaning and disinfection plan.

The bill should remain displayed for at least 15 days and must be in English or a language understood by the majority of employees, and the employer should keep records of the dates of posting.

Individual written notification

If the employer decides to give his employees notice in writing, he must give notice to all employees who were at the same workplace during the infectious period of a confirmed case of COVID-19. The infectious period begins two days before a symptomatic person has any symptoms, or two days before an asymptomatic person tests positive for COVID-19. Employers may provide this information in writing, by email or text message in English, as long as the form of communication is consistent with how each employer typically distributes employment-related information. In particular, the written notice requirements are much less burdensome than the requirements for posting to the workplace.

Employers should decide whether to use workplace broadcasts or continue to provide individual written notices. Regardless of how employers notify their employees of potential exposure to COVID-19, employers should ensure that they provide all of the required information for the appropriate type of notification.

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