Governor Newsom Signs COVID-19 Employee Bills Into Law

Capitol building in Sacramento

This week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law two COVID-19 related employment bills — Senate Bill 1159 (authored by Senator Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo) and Assembly Bill 685 (authored by Assemblymember Eloise Gómez Reyes, D-San Bernardino).

SB 1159 expands access to workers’ compensation by creating a rebuttable presumption that illness or death related to COVID-19 is an occupational injury and therefore eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. SB 1159 is an urgency statue and takes effect immediately. The rebuttable presumption created under the law will remain in place until January 2023.

AB 685 requires employers to report known cases to employees who may have been exposed to COVID-19 within one business day. AB 685 expands Cal/OSHA’s enforcement authority by providing clear authority to close a worksite due to a COVID-19 hazard and reducing the timeframe for COVID-19 citations. The law also requires an employer to notify local public health officials within 48 hours if the number of cases the employer has meets the law’s definition of an outbreak. The law takes effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

A more detailed League analysis will be coming soon.

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