Three bills signed by Governor Gavin Newsom last week once again modify employers’ obligations to California employees who are exposed to or contract COVID-19. The most important aspects of this round of mutations in COVID-19-related state law are summarized here.
COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave is Extended
Under Assembly Bill 152, signed by Governor Newsom, employers must now permit California employees to use COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave through December 31, 2022. Prior law provided that employees could not use the Supplemental Paid Sick Leave after September 30. Governor Newsom signed AB 152 on September 29, the day before the Supplemental Paid Sick Leave program was scheduled to expire.
Significantly, AB 152 does not credit employees with additional COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave hours. Rather, employees who, as of September 30, 2022, had not exhausted their bank of Supplemental PSL hours, now have an additional three months in which to use their available Supplemental PSL hours, namely, the fourth quarter of this year. Further, any employee who, as of December 31, is using their Supplemental PSL, will be entitled to remain on such leave into January 2023 so long as they qualify and have hours to draw on.
As a consequence of the extension of employees’ right to use the Supplemental PSL, employers must continue through the end of the year to display on employees’ paystubs the amount of their available COVID-19 Supplemental PSL apart from the employees’ regular California paid sick leave.
AB 152 amends Labor Code sections 248.6 and 248.7.
Obligations to Notify Employees of Potential Exposure are Modified
Assembly Bill 2693 allows employers to post notice in the workplace of potential COVID-19 exposure as an alternative to giving written notice individually to each potentially exposed employee, as was required under prior law. When posting notice, employers must “prominently display” the notice “in all places” where similar workplace rules are posted and on any employee portal.
The notice must include:
– The dates when an employee, or an employee of a subcontractor, with a confirmed case of COVID-19 was on the premises within the infectious period;
– The locations in the workplace of the exposures, although this information need not be so specific as to allow the COVID-19 case to be identified;
– Contact information for those who can provide employees information on available COVID-19-related benefits, including sick leave, workers’ compensation, etc.; and,
– Contact information for employees to obtain the employer’s cleaning and disinfection plan.
Where employers choose the posting alternative, the notice must be in the language understood by the majority of the employees and in English. The employer must post the notice within one business day from when the employer learns of the potential exposure and continue posting for at least 15 days.
AB 2693 amends Labor Code section 6409.6. Although section 6409.6 now allows employees to post notice instead of giving written notice of potential exposure to employees individually, the current Cal/OSHA Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) appear to continue to require that covered employers give employees written notice of potential exposure, individually. The safest course for employers is, in addition to complying with the amended Labor Code section 6409.6, to also give individual written notice in order to satisfy the ETS.
Presumptions in Workers Compensation Cases are Extended
Prior law imposed a rebuttable presumption in certain workers compensation cases that death or injury related to COVID-19 was work-related, that is, that the employee contracted the virus in the course and scope of employment. Before Governor Newsom signed AB 1751, the presumption was set to expire on January 1, 2023. AB 1751 now extends the expiration date for one year through January 1, 2024. AB 1751 amends Labor Code sections 3212.86 through 3212.88.
Employers’ obligations to employees impacted by COVID-19 continue to evolve in consequential respects. It is our hope that this brief post gives you a leg up.
If you have questions or we may assist on this subject, please contact your Fox Rothschild LLP attorney or the author.
This post provides general information and does not constitute legal advice to any person with respect to any circumstance. This post does not create an attorney-client relationship with any person.