• Sasha Struthers

3 Big Takeaways of AB 685- LA Employers COVID-19 Reporting Requirements

Starting January 1, 2021 in California, AB 685 is imposing new employer reporting requirements for COVID-19 cases in the workplace. There are 3 major things employers need to know about AB 685.

(1) Employers must notify employees and subcontractors within 1 day of a known or believed potential exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace.

If an employer receives notice of potential exposure of COVID-19 in the workplace the employer must notify all employees and subcontractors in writing within 1 business day of the potential exposure. An employer is on notice if the employer receives information about a "qualifying individual" that may increase the chances of exposure to other employees. A qualifying individual is defined as any person who:

(1) has a laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19;

(2) are diagnosed with COVID-19 by a licensed health care provider;

(2) is under an order to isolate due to COVID-19 by a public health official; or

(3) have died due to COVID-19 as determined by a county public health department.

The notice must also include:

  • Information about the CDC guidelines for disinfection and safety measures that the employer will be taking;

  • Workers' Compensation benefits employee is entitled to;

  • All paid and unpaid leave afforded to the employee; and

  • Anti-retaliation and anti-discrimination protections.

Failure to comply can result in fines levied by Cal/OSHA starting from $12,471 for non-serious violation, $25,000 for a serious violation and $124,709 for repeated and willful violations.

(2) Employers must notify local public health agency of a known outbreak in the workplace.

Further, if there is a COVID 19 "outbreak" in the workplace, an employer is responsible for notifying the local public health agency within 48 hours. An outbreak is defined as:

(1) Three or more probable or laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 ("qualifying individuals");

(2) within a 14-day period;

(3) among workers who live in different households;

(4) and are not considered close contacts in any other COVID-19 case investigation.

The employer must provide the following information to the public health agency about the "qualifying individuals":

  • Names

  • Phone Numbers

  • Occupation

  • Worksite location

(3) AB 685 also extends Cal/OSHA's authority to close entire worksites.

Cal/OSHA is allowed to close an entire worksite or area of a worksite if Cal/OSHA deems an imminent threat of COVID-19 exposure. Cal/OSHA is required to post an immediate notice at the worksite advising of any closures, superseding Cal/OSHA's from normal advanced notice of closures requirement. Cal/OSHA must allow entry into those areas to address the threat and remove the hazard.


  1. Pre-draft a notice of potential COVID-19 exposure right now to be prepared to meet the 1 day notice requirement.

  2. Consult with employment counsel right away if you believe there has been potential COVID-19 exposure in the workplace. This triggers layers of sick leaves that must be worked through to avoid liability down the line.

  3. Do an assessment of the workplace to determine if there are any measures that should be taken to avoid an exposure or spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. Cal/OSHA will be increasing its investigations of workplaces. Employers with larger workforces need to be on the alert of a potential closure.

Should you have any questions about COVID-19 regulations you may contact me by phone at (818) 306-0686 or by email at sasha@struthers.legal

Visit my website at struthers.legal and subscribe to my newsletter to get up-to date information on employment laws. You can also follow me on Twitter @Struthers_Legal and Youtube for employment tips and law updates.

The information in this post is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this post should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.