LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Employers will now have to alert their employees of an outbreak of COVID-19 within 48 hours of finding out about it, after California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed two new laws protecting workers from being exposed to the virus.
Newsom signed AB 685, which requires workers be informed of COVID-19 exposure, into law Thursday. The new law now requires employers to notify their workers of worksite exposure to the disease.
“Until today, existing state law did not require that employees be notified of COVID-19 exposures in the workplace, with tragic results,” said San Bernardino Assemblywoman Eloise Reyes, who authored the legislation.
Several outbreaks have been reported among essential workers, and public health experts say a large number of COVID-19 infections have been traced back to workplaces. Since the pandemic began in March, workers across the country have protested safety conditions and the lack of personal protective equipment that led to infections and deaths.
Newsom said he was thankful to Reyes for helping correct a glaring oversight.
“I think one of the things that we all recognize is that we have to reconcile the realities of the disparities that persist, that were made even more raw, more real in this pandemic and exposed those gaps in very pronounced and profound ways,” Newsom said.
The new laws also require companies to report any outbreaks to local health officials within 48 hours of being notified themselves.