Two COVID-19 Reporting Laws Extended Through 2023 in California

California employers must be prepared to continue several COVID-19 reporting practices through 2023, pursuant to two bill extensions recently passed by state legislators.

Assembly Bill (AB) 1751 extends the COVID-19 reporting requirements first put into place by Senate Bill (SB) 1159 until January 1, 2024.  Similarly, AB 2693 extends the requirements of AB 685 to the same timeframe. Both had been set to expire at the end of 2022 prior to their extensions.

SB 1159 requires employers with five or more employees in the state of California to report information about any on-site employee who tests positive for COVID-19 to their workers’ compensation claims administrator within three business days. When reporting these cases, the following information should be included:

  • The date of the positive test
  • The specific address(es) of the employee’s employment during the 14-day period prior to the positive test
  • The highest number of employees who reported to work at that location(s) of employment in the 45-day period prior to the last day the employee worked at each specific location

Most insurance carriers have proprietary reporting forms for this information. Please reach out to your client manager for assistance. It’s important to note that the above reporting requirements do not apply to fully remote employees, only to those who work on-site at a business location. Reporting for hybrid employees is less clear-cut, and will require individual evaluation on a case-by-case basis. If you have hybrid employees, it’s best to contact your claims advocate or broker who can advise you based on the specifics of each situation.

As a reminder, these reporting requirements are in place so the claims administrator can track cases at each worksite to determine whether an “outbreak” has occurred. An “outbreak” exists if one of the following occurs at a specific location of employment within a 14-day period:

  • Four employees test positive for COVID-19 (workplace of 100 employees or fewer)
  • Four percent of employees test positive for COVID-19 (workplace of more than 100 employees)
  • A specific location of employment is ordered to close due to a risk of infection with COVID-19 by a local public health department, the State Department of Public Health, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health or a school superintendent.

In the event of an “outbreak,” the presumption for compensability for claims will apply. If the above criteria for an “outbreak” are not met, a claim for work-related COVID-19 exposure will be examined using standard compensability analysis.

Please note: this outbreak calculation is not applicable to frontline workers (police officers, firefighters, and healthcare workers such as physicians, nurses, EMTs, home health agencies). These occupations are presumed to have work-related Covid-19 exposure.

This information is for your reference only. As an employer, you are only responsible for reporting your cases to your workers’ compensation administrator. Diagnosing an outbreak – including breaking up employees by employment site and evaluating cases within a time period – is your carrier’s responsibility.

Compliance with AB 1751 through the next 14 months (until January 1, 2024) is paramount. Employers who fail to submit this information can be subject to a fine of up to $10,000 by the California Labor Commission.

The second extension to be aware of is AB 2693, extending the provisions of AB 685, which requires employers to notify workers, vendors and anyone else who came into their facility of any new COVID-19 cases within 24 hours. In addition, AB 685 requires companies to notify local public health agencies when a worksite has a COVID-19 “outbreak,” as determined by your carrier via the criteria outlined above.

On the first requirement, one of the recommendations C3 made prior to AB 685, was that employers implement a comprehensive sign-in/sign-out log for every employee and vendor who enters a building. A log that tracks the date, name, company, reason for visit, arrival time, departure time, cell phone number and email address makes it easier to comply with notification requirements. As a reminder, health privacy laws must be maintained and the identity of the person who has tested positive should never be revealed.

Regarding the second requirement of AB 685, if your carrier makes an “outbreak” determination, it is your responsibility to notify the appropriate local public health agencies within 48 hours. The required notices must include the contact numbers, occupations and worksites of employees who are considered qualifying individuals. Employers must also report the business addresses and NAICS codes of the worksites where those individuals work.

Compliance with AB 2693 through the next 14 months (until January 1, 2024) is paramount. Employers who fail to submit this information can fined $25,000 per violation.

Whether another extension, taking the above-described provisions into 2024, could happen is unclear. But, both AB 1751 and AB 2693 were originally proposed as two-year extensions, ending January 1, 2025, and both were cut back by a year before they were passed. That gives some indication that we could see a light at the end of the tunnel for these reporting requirements.

For now, though, businesses should keep doing what they are doing, making sure to meet all reporting requirements to avoid any potential fines. If you have any questions regarding these requirements, or whether your processes are compliant, C3 is here to help. Don’t hesitate to reach out for assistance.