Employment Law Bulletin | October 21, 2020

AB 685 – New Employer Obligations to Notify Employees of “Potential Exposure” to COVID-19

Governor Newsom recently signed Assembly Bill 685 requiring employers to notify employees and local public health authorities if employees have been “potentially exposed” to COVID-19 in the workplace.  The Bill also requires employers to notify employees of COVID-19 related benefits and the disinfection and safety plan the employer will implement and complete in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.

In addition, AB 685 grants Cal/OSHA the authority to shut down a worksite that exposes employees to an “imminent health hazard” related to COVID-19, and to issue citations for serious violations related to COVID-19 without giving employers 15-day’s notice before issuance.

The law is effective from January 1, 2021 until January 1, 2023.  Details of the law and your obligations are below.  Italicized terms are defined later in the article.

Notice to Employees, Subcontracted Employees and Employee Representatives

If an employer receives notice of potential exposure to COVID-19, the employer must provide the following written notices within one business day of notice of the potential exposure:

Notice to the Local Public Health Agency

If an employer is notified of the number of cases that meet the definition of a COVID-19 Outbreak, as defined by the State Department of Public Health, the employer must provide notice of the following to the local public health agency within 48 hours:

No Disclosure of Medical Information

The employer may not require employees to disclose medical information unless otherwise required by law.

No Retaliation

Application of Law

Recordkeeping Requirements

Employers must maintain written notices for at least three years.


OSHA may issue citations/penalties.


Reporting to Cal/OSHA

Next Steps

AB 685 requires a lot of employers, but compliance is not required until January 1, 2021. Contact an SMT employment attorney for assistance with developing procedures, policies and forms to comply with this new law.

Lisa Ann Hilario [2]

No Se Habla Español?

SMT’s employment attorneys can provide your company with employment policies, forms and employee disciplinary documentation in Spanish. Providing such important information to employees in the language they understand is critical to employee performance, providing a welcoming diverse work environment, and protecting your company against employment claims. Contact an SMT attorney today to get started.

Spaulding McCullough & Tansil LLP
Employment Law Group

Jan Gabrielson Tansil [3]  | Lisa Ann Hilario [2] | Kari Brown [4]