0221_February Comstock's Magazine - Page 22

Three COVID-19-related laws to know

BY Aaron B . Silva

In a typical year , new laws usually include

changes to pay practices and antidiscrimination measures . But 2020 was anything but typical . Not surprisingly , several 2021 laws focus on issues related to COVID-19 .
COVID-19 EXPOSURE Assembly Bill 685 is a law that primarily requires employers to provide several written notices to employees and employers of subcontracted employees when the employer receives notice of potential COVID-19 exposure . These notices must communicate key information , including actual or potential COVID-19 exposure , COVID-19-related benefits ( which may be available to recipients under the law and workplace policies , such as workers ’ compensation and paid sick leave ), and a notice about cleaning and disinfecting procedures implemented to remedy the hazard caused by the exposure . Employers are allotted one business day to deliver these required notices . As a best practice , organizations should prepare these notices well in advance so they are able to respond quickly if an outbreak occurs .
WORKERS ’ COMPENSATION A presumption that COVID-19 infection occurred in the workplace for workers ’ compensation purposes is addressed in Senate Bill 1159 . The law says that if an employee tests positive for COVID-19 during a workplace outbreak ( defined as a 14-day period when four or more employees of employers with less than 100 employees or 4 percent or more of employees for employers with more than 100 employees test positive , or the workplace is ordered closed by certain public agencies ), there is a rebuttable presumption that the infection is covered by workers ’ compensation . The law also requires all employers to notify their workers ’ compensation administrator within three business days when the organization “ knows or reasonably should know ” that an employee has tested positive for COVID-19 , regardless of whether there was an outbreak .
PREVENTION PROGRAM Workplace safety and COVID-19 are most thoroughly addressed in the 21 pages of emergency regulations issued by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health . The most significant obligation is the requirement for employers to create a written COVID-19 prevention program , including training about COVID-19 and who should be excluded from the workplace when an infected person has been at work . Cal / OSHA also touches on topics not traditionally regulated by the agency , such as requiring employers to maintain an “ employee ’ s earnings , seniority , and all other employee rights and benefits ” if that employee must be excluded from work because of COVID-19 . Cal / OSHA ’ s model prevention program , posted on its website , totals 20 pages before employer-specific information is inserted , demonstrating just how extensive these regulations are .
Aaron B . Silva is a partner and chair of the Labor and Employment Law Team at Murphy Austin Adams Schoenfeld LLP . He produces a monthly employment law podcast , “ HR Legalcast ,” which highlights issues that affect California employers . baby , she would be entitled to another 12 weeks of CFRA baby-bonding leave , for a potential total of about 30 weeks , or seven months , of protected leave . And Jamila ’ s husband , who has worked for the same company for two years , would also be eligible for 12 weeks of CFRA baby-bonding leave , which he may take at the same time as his wife .
Next steps
All businesses covered by the CFRA should review and revise policies and procedures , including employee handbooks , to ensure compliance with its expanded leave rights .
Small businesses not previously covered under the CFRA are encouraged to plan for providing up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave to qualifying employees and to draft and implement family and medical requests and other related forms .
Larger employers covered prior to 2021 should review their forms and processes to address the changes effective this year .
Finally , employers must post a new CFRA poster , available on the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing website ( www . dfeh . ca . gov ). Employers should consult with experienced employment law counsel when navigating these complicated leave issues .
Laura C . McHugh is a shareholder with Duggan McHugh Law Corporation , which focuses on advising and representing employers . Consuelo I . Amezcua is an associate attorney at Duggan McHugh Law Corporation .
22 comstocksmag . com | February 2021