COVID exposure laws: massive changes ahead for California employers

October 2, 2020

The pandemic has continued to result in rapid changes to our lives and the law. This Weekly Brief contains insight into recent changes in the law that impact almost all businesses in California:

Mandatory Reporting to Employees for COVID-19 Exposure

From January 1, 2021, employers are required to report potential COVID-19 exposures to their employees within 1 day of receiving notice of the potential exposure. The notice must be provided to all employees and subcontractor employers who were on the premises at the same worksite as the ‘qualifying individual’ in writing, with the following information:

  • Details of any COVID-19-related benefits available to the employees, including (but not limited to) workers compensation and company sick leave.
  • An outline of any disinfection and safety plan.

Written communication should take place using the normal communication method within the workplace. This means, if you would typically use email to contact your employees, you should provide the written notice via email.

You can read AB-685 here.

Changes to Unpaid Leave Entitlements under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA)

From January 1, 2021, any employer with at least 5 employees (a significant drop from the 50-employee threshold previously contemplated by the CFRA) is required to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to employees who need time off to tend to a serious medical condition, bond with a new child, or care for a family member with a serious medical condition.

The definition of family member has been expanded to include grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, and domestic partners, as well as those covered under the earlier definition: children, parents, and spouses.

You can read SB-1383 here.

Man working from home in front of laptop while nursing his young son

Supplemental Paid Sick Leave for COVID-19

Finally, as of September 19, 2020 (but with retroactive effect from April 16), certain businesses must provide 80 hours of supplemental paid leave for full-time workers or the equivalent number of hours for two weeks for part-time workers with a regular schedule.

This is relevant for workers who:

  • Work in the food sector;
  • Are employed by non-government businesses with 500+ employees; or
  • Work in health care and emergency response (but aren’t covered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act).


If you need assistance drafting policies that promote compliance with workplace law, don’t hesitate to reach out. 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.

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