Labor Code section 6409.6, effective January 1, 2021, provides duties of employer when notified of potential exposure to Covid-19 in the workplace. This new section enhances reporting requirements to local health authorities in the event of an outbreak. In addition, it also expands the Division of Occupational Safety and Health of California's (Cal/OSHA) authority to shut down worksites deemed to be an "imminent hazard" due to Covid-19 and issue "serious violation" citations.
Labor Code section 6409.6 provides:
(a) If an employer or representative of the employer receives a notice of potential exposure to COVID-19, the employer shall take all of the following actions within one business day of the notice of potential exposure: (1) Provide a written notice to all employees, and the employers of subcontracted employees, who were on the premises at the same worksite as the qualifying individual within the infectious period that they may have been exposed to COVID-19 in a manner the employer normally uses to communicate employment-related information. Written notice may include, but is not limited to, personal service, email, or text message if it can reasonably be anticipated to be received by the employee within one business day of sending and shall be in both English and the language understood by the majority of the employees.(2) Provide a written notice to the exclusive representative, if any, of employees under paragraph (1).(3) Provide all employees who may have been exposed and the exclusive representative, if any, with information regarding COVID-19-related benefits to which the employee may be entitled under applicable federal, state, or local laws, including, but not limited to, workers' compensation, and options for exposed employees, including COVID-19-related leave, company sick leave, state-mandated leave, supplemental sick leave, or negotiated leave provisions, as well as antiretaliation and antidiscrimination protections of the employee.(4) Notify all employees, and the employers of subcontracted employees and the exclusive representative, if any, on the disinfection and safety plan that the employer plans to implement and complete per the guidelines of the federal Centers for Disease Control.(b) If an employer or representative of the employer is notified of the number of cases that meet the definition of a COVID-19 outbreak, as defined by the State Department of Public Health, within 48 hours, the employer shall notify the local public health agency in the jurisdiction of the worksite of the names, number, occupation, and worksite of employees who meet the definition in subdivision (d) of a qualifying individual. An employer shall also report the business address and NAICS code of the worksite where the qualifying individuals work. An employer that has an outbreak subject to this section shall continue to give notice to the local health department of any subsequent laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the worksite.(c) The notice required pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) shall contain the same information as would be required in an incident report in a Cal/OSHA Form 300 injury and illness log unless the information is inapplicable or unknown to the employer. This requirement shall apply regardless of whether the employer is required to maintain a Cal/OSHA Form 300 injury and illness log. Notifications required by this section shall not impact any determination of whether or not the illness is work related.(d) For purposes of this section, the following definitions apply: (1) "COVID-19" means severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).(2) "Infectious period" means the time a COVID-19-positive individual is infectious, as defined by the State Department of Public Health.(3) "Notice of potential exposure" means any of the following: (A) Notification to the employer or representative from a public health official or licensed medical provider that an employee was exposed to a qualifying individual at the worksite.(B) Notification to the employer or representative from an employee, or their emergency contact, that the employee is a qualifying individual.(C) Notification through the testing protocol of the employer that the employee is a qualifying individual.(D) Notification to an employer or representative from a subcontracted employer that a qualifying individual was on the worksite of the employer receiving notification.(4) "Qualifying individual" means any person who has any of the following: (A) A laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19, as defined by the State Department of Public Health.(B) A positive COVID-19 diagnosis from a licensed health care provider.(C) A COVID-19-related order to isolate provided by a public health official.(D) Died due to COVID-19, in the determination of a county public health department or per inclusion in the COVID-19 statistics of a county.(5) "Worksite" means the building, store, facility, agricultural field, or other location where a worker worked during the infectious period. It does not apply to buildings, floors, or other locations of the employer that a qualified individual did not enter. In a multiworksite environment, the employer need only notify employees who were at the same worksite as the qualified individual.(e) An employer shall not require employees to disclose medical information unless otherwise required by law.(f) An employer shall not retaliate against a worker for disclosing a positive COVID-19 test or diagnosis or order to quarantine or isolate. Workers who believe they have been retaliated against in violation of this section may file a complaint with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement pursuant to Section 98.6. The complaint shall be investigated as provided in Section 98.7.(g) The State Department of Public Health shall make workplace industry information received from local public health departments pursuant to this section available on its internet website in a manner that allows the public to track the number and frequency of COVID-19 outbreaks and the number of COVID-19 cases and outbreaks by industry reported by any workplace in accordance with subdivision (b). Local public health departments and the division shall provide a link to this page on their internet websites. No personally identifiable employee information shall be made public or posted.(h) This section shall apply to both private and public employers, except that subdivision (b) shall not apply to a "health facility," as defined in Section 1250 of the Health and Safety Code.(i) This section shall not apply to employees who, as part of their duties, conduct COVID-19 testing or screening or provide direct patient care or treatment to individuals who are known to have tested positive for COVID-19, are persons under investigation, or are in quarantine or isolation related to COVID-19, unless the qualifying individual is an employee at the same worksite.(j) No personally identifiable employee information shall be subject to a California Public Records Act request or similar request, posted on a public internet website, or shared with any other state or federal agency.(k) An employer shall maintain records of the written notifications required in subdivision (a) for a period of at least three years.(l) The division shall enforce paragraphs (1), (2), and (4) of subdivision (a) by the issuance of a citation alleging a violation of these paragraphs and a notice of civil penalty in a manner consistent with Section 6317. Any person who receives a citation and penalty may appeal the citation and penalty to the appeals board in a manner consistent with Section 6319.