In a move to combat the impact of COVID-19 on businesses, effective Sept. 17, 2020, California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill expanding employee protections related to COVID-19. California Assembly Bill (AB) 685 requires employers to provide employees with notice that they may have been exposed to COVID-19 within one business day.
Who does AB 685 apply to?
AB 685 applies to public or private employers who own or operate a worksite in the state of California. A worksite is defined by the bill as a building, store, facility, agricultural field, or other location where a worker performed work.
When does AB 685 go into effect?
The bill was approved by the Governor and filed with the Secretary of State on September 17, 2020. The new law will be in effect from January 1, 2021, until January 1, 2023.
What are the employers obligations as per AB 685?
Section 6409.6(a) of AB 685 requires an employer or representative of the employer who receives notice of potential exposure to COVID-19 to take the following actions within one business day:
1. Notify potentially infected employees
2. Notify employers of potentially infected subcontracted employees
3. Notify the Union for potentially infected employee
4. Notify potentially infected employees and their Union of COVID-19 related benefits and of the Employer’s COVID-19 Safety Plan
5. Notify the local public health department within 48 hours of notice of a COVID-19 outbreak
What is Care360?
Care360 from CareValidate is a complete infectious disease surveillance and management platform for employers. It consists of quickly deployable modules for screening, testing and tracing – the CDC recommended interventions for effectively stopping chains of transmission.
How does Care360 from CareValidate help comply with AB 685?
Care360 Program Administrators can use the Positive Test Reply feature of the Care360 app to automatically notify all potentially infected employees per AB 685 requirements. These notifications are delivered as a push notification, in-app messages and via email, or text message instantaneously.
2. Care360 notifies employers of potentially infected subcontracted employees
All subcontracted employees can be invited through a unique join code to the Care360 platform. Once a case is entered into Care360 all users invited with this unique join code will receive a custom notification set by the employer’s Care360 Program Administrator. This notification will be delivered via email to the employer of the potentially infected subcontracted employee.
3. Care360 notifies the union for potentially infected employee
Care360 Program Administrators can enter email addresses for union representatives in the Report Settings menu of the Care360 app. They can then click on the toggle button for “Email recipients when cases are reported”. Enabling this will create a notification that will be delivered via email to the union representative of the infected employee.
4. Care360 notifies potentially infected employees and their union of COVID-19 related benefits and the Employer's COVID-19 Safety Plan
In the Direct Contact Reply menu, Care360 Program Administrators can enter a customized message about COVID-19 related benefits and Employer's COVID-19 Safety Plan to be sent to employees and their union representatives in the case of a potential infection. These notifications are delivered as a push notification, in-app messages and via email, or text message to the employee and via email to the union representative of the infected employee.
5. Care360 helps notify the local public health department within 48 hours of notice of a COVID-19 outbreak
Care360 digital health platform generates a daily report for the Employer with all the required information (the number of qualifying individuals, the name, occupation, and worksite for those individuals, the employer’s business address, and the NAICS code of the worksite) needed to be submitted to the local public health department. The Care360 report can also be generated on demand by the employer’s Care360 Program Administrator.
What else does Care360 automate, in addition to notifications?
1. Care360 generates a list of on-site employees
With the use an AreaBeacon placed at the point of entry and exit of a worksite, Care360 automatically captures employees, contractors and visitors who were present on the worksite on the day of a case report.
2. Care360 discovers qualifying individuals within the infectious period
The Care360 app automatically determines if a qualifying individual was within the infectious period per CDPH guidance. Per AB 685 the current definition of the infectious period is the time a COVID-19-positive individual is infectious, as defined by the State Department of Public Health. CDPH states that for symptomatic cases, the infectious period is up to 10 days after onset and for asymptomatic cases, the CDPH recommends isolating for 10 days.
3. Care360 identifies outbreaks at the worksite level
Under Labor Code section 6409.6(b), employers must notify the local public health department within 48 hours of notice of a COVID-19 “outbreak” (as defined by the CDPH). The CDPH currently defines an “outbreak” as “three or more laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 among workers who live in different households within a two-week period.” This information can be tracked on a daily basis with the Care360 report.
What about Confidentiality and Privacy under AB 685?
AB 685 provides employers with a limited ability to disclose positive test cases under specific conditions. Employers must still provide notice to other employees in a way that does not reveal the identity of the confirmed case and preserves the employees’ privacy. Care360 utilizes a fully anonymized onboarding flow to minimize the collection of any Personally Identifiable Information up until the point of reporting. When required, employees can break the chain of data anonymization by automatically sharing their randomly generated Care360 ID’s with HR to comply with AB 685’s the reporting requirements. By using this approach, Care360 greatly minimizes data exposure for the organization while meeting all the requirements of AB 685.
What are the monetary penalties associated with AB 685? A Serious Violation may be assessed a civil penalty of up to $25,000 for each such violation. (8 CCR §336(c)(1).)
Care360 helps employers of all sizes comply with ALL the new notice requirements and changes to Cal/OSHA enforcement under AB 685 requiring employers to respond quickly to learning of an employee’s confirmed case or outbreak. Onboarding a team with invitation codes is easy and fully anonymized. Thus, while AB 685 is not effective until January 1, 2021, employers should begin a free onboarding with Care360 now to make sure that their plans are battle-tested before the end of the new year. Given that employee notices, in particular, must be circulated within one business day, it is imperative that employers have their employee notice configured in the Care360 app ahead of time.