On November 19, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (the Board) adopted emergency COVID-19 regulations to increase workplace prevention measures. Unlike the general guidance the Board has provided to employers in the past, these standards are intended to be binding and enforceable.
They are currently pending approval by the Office of Administrative Law (OAL). It is widely expected the new law will be approved following a 10-day review period and thus, will become effective and enforceable on November 30, 2020.
What is required of employers under the Emergency COVID-19 Regulations?
A portion of the emergency regulations codifies the guidance that has been provided for workplaces over the past months. Features that are likely present in your COVID-19 response plan are now legally mandated, including:
- Creation of a communication system;
- Defined procedures for identifying and evaluating COVID-19 hazards within the workplace;
- An investigation and response plan for COVID-19 cases within the workplace;
- Implementing measures to reduce COVID-19 risk, including PPE, barriers, and physical distancing;
- Staff training and instruction;
- Accountability measures, including reporting, recordkeeping, and transparency; and
- Exclusion of COVID-19 cases and potential exposures from the workplace.
New COVID-19 Requirements
The above requirements are likely familiar as they are already a part of your COVID-19 response plan. There are new requirements, however, that warrant specific mention:
- Employers must offer COVID-19 testing at no cost to their employees to any employee who may have been exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace. The testing must take place during the employee’s working hours.
- Employees with COVID-19 or COVID-19 exposure should be excluded from your workplace until they have satisfied specific return to work criteria.
- Employees who are excluded from the workplace are entitled to their regular pay and benefits, unless the employer can demonstrate that the exposure did not occur at the workplace. This requirement sets out a new leave entitlement for workers. Note that workers could be entitled to the paid leave on more than one occasion.
Who is exempt from the COVID-19 Regulations?
The following employees are exempt from these measures:
- Places of employment where there is only one employee who does not have contact with other persons.
- Employees working from home.
- Employees covered by section 5199, namely certain employees working in healthcare and medical facilities.
The new requirements are more onerous for employers. We strongly encourage you to view the full text of the Regulations to ensure a full understanding of the requirements.
Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need any assistance complying with these latest emergency measures, including drafting a COVID-19 response plan. We’re here to help!
The materials available at this website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this website or any of the e-mail links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between CGL and the user or browser. The opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the firm or any individual attorney.