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THE CONSTANTLY CHANGING COVID LEGAL LANDSCAPE

We may have made great strides in getting the virus itself under control, but the legal landscape surrounding employee rights and employer obligations related to COVID continues to evolve and certainties remain few. There are a number of legislative changes that become effective January 1, 2023 but remember these may change at any time given the dynamic nature of this area of the law:






AB 2693: Notice of COVID-19 Outbreak


AB 2693 amends the California Labor Code § 6409.6 to modify an employers’ duty to notify employees of potential exposure to COVID-19 and extends those duties until January 1, 2024. Under prior law, employers were required to provide written notices to all employees individually (within one business day of a confirmed case of COVID-19 on workplace property). Under the amended law, employers may prominently display notices in the workplace (in all places where notices are customarily posted, including online employee platforms) notifying employees of the potential exposure, in lieu of individual written notices. The worksite notice must include:

  • the dates on which an employee with a confirmed case of COVID-19 was on the worksite premises within the infectious period;

  • the location or locations of the exposure, including the department, floor, building, or other area (note: the location need not be specific enough to allow individual workers to be identified);

  • contact information for employees to receive information regarding COVID-19-related benefits to which employees may be entitled under applicable federal, state, or local laws; and

  • contact information for employees to receive the employer’s cleaning and disinfection plan pursuant to CDC guidelines and COVID-19 prevention program pursuant to Cal-OSHA’s COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards.


AB 1751: COVID-19 Occupational Injuries

AB 1751 extends the current rebuttable presumption that employees who test positive for COVID-19 during an “outbreak” at the workplace have suffered an occupational injury and therefore are eligible for specified workers’ compensation benefits. An “outbreak” is defined as:

  • for employers with 100 employees or fewer, four employees testing positive for COVID-19 within 14 calendar days;

  • for employers with more than 100 employees, four percent of employees reporting to the place of employment testing positive for COVID-19 within 14 calendar days; and

  • any specific place of employment that a local public health department, the State Department of Public Health, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, or a community college district chancellor, school president, or school superintendent orders to close due to a risk of COVID-19 infection.

Employers have 45 days to accept or deny an employee's claims resulting from an “outbreak.” Employers may attempt to rebut the presumption of work-relatedness by presenting (among other things) “evidence of measures in place to reduce potential transmission of COVID-19 in the employee’s place of employment and evidence of an employee’s nonoccupational risks of COVID-19 infection.”


There are a handful of other COVID-specific changes and we expect many modifications and new requirements throughout the year. In addition to the legislative changes, there are countless orders from local and county health departments that employers (and employees) should be aware of and all of which may impact any COVID-related employment issue.


In short, the only thing certain here is change.


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