Just When You Thought It Was Over: New Covid Laws For California Employers
Just When You Thought It Was Over: New Covid Laws For California Employers

With the relaxation of some governmental COVID-19 measures, it may appear that employers need no longer be concerned with any of the requirements imposed in the last two years.  On the contrary, the California Legislature has created a number of new COVID-19-related laws that may California Employers: 

  • Assembly Bill 152 extends COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (SPSL), which had been set to expire on September 30, 2022, to December 31, 2022. That means that California employers with at least 26 employees must continue to provide, under specified COVID-19-related circumstances, up to 80 hours of SPSL to a full-time employee, or for a part-time employee up to the number of hours worked over two weeks.  Further, AB 152 permits employers to require additional testing on or after the fifth day after the initial positive test.  If the test is positive, the employer may require a second diagnostic test within no less than 24 hours.  Such test(s) must be provided at no cost to the employee.  If an employee refuses either test, the employer may deny additional SPSL.  AB 152 went into effect immediately.
  • Assembly Bill 1751 extends to January 1, 2024 a rebuttable presumption that was established by prior law that certain COVID-19 cases are work-related under certain outbreak circumstances. AB 1751 also extends to January 1, 2024, certain workers’ compensation benefits for persons meeting COVID-19 injury requirements and requires that employers must provide information about COVID-19 cases to their workers' compensation claims administrator.
  • Unlike the above laws, Assembly Bill 2693 relaxes a COVID-19-related employer obligation. Beginning January 1, 2023, instead of individual notification, employers will be permitted to fulfill their notice requirements of a potential COVID-19 exposure by prominently displaying for 15 days a notice of the potential exposure.  The notice must be posted in the workplace location where other workplace rules are usually displayed and employers must keep a log of all of the dates the notice was posted.  Another new relaxed standard is that employers will no longer be required to notify their local county health departments of a COVID-19 outbreak.  However, AB 2693 extends to January 1, 2024, the ability of the Division of Occupational Safety and Health to prohibit the performance of an operation, or entry into that place of employment when, in its opinion, a place of employment exposes workers to the risk of infection with COVID-19, so as to constitute an imminent hazard to employees.
  • The Cal/OSHA Standards Board’s (Board) COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) may be changed to a non-emergency standard that would remain in effect until December 31, 2024.  On September 15, 2022, the Board held a public hearing to consider changing to a proposed non-emergency COVID-19 standard that would become effective on December 31, 2023, when the current standard expires.  Many employer representatives expressed their opposition to any non-emergency standard after the current ETS expires and that the 2-year duration of the proposed standard is arbitrary. It is expected that the Board will conduct a vote to approve a final version of a non-emergency COVID-19 regulations before the current ETS expires.

The author would like to gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Joanne Warriner.


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