California Employers: Know Your COVID-Related Reporting Requirements

The most notable California law concerning COVID-19 reporting in the workplace, AB 685, recently got an update in Sacramento. In October 2021, Gov. Newsom signed AB 654. The bill, which updates many parts of AB 685, went into effect immediately and is still applicable to most California employers. 

More Employees Need to Know About COVID-19 Infections

Before AB 654, employers only needed to notify employees who may have been close contacts with someone confirmed to be infected. As a quick refresher, a close contact is anyone who was within six feet of an infected person for at least 15 cumulative minutes during the high-risk exposure period. 

AB 654 requires employers to notify everyone who was on the same worksite as the infected worker. This includes workers who do not fit the definition of a close contact. If your company uses multiple worksites, you do not need to notify everyone in the company. Additionally, no other employees need to be notified if the infected employee works virtually. The same people who must be notified of a workplace infection must also be notified of COVID-related benefits.

Timeframe For Reporting COVID-19 Outbreaks

AB 654 only slightly modifies the timeframe for employers to report COVID-19 outbreaks in the workplace. As it stands now, employers must report workplace COVID-19 outbreaks to the local health agency within 48 hours or one business day—whichever comes later

Notifying Union Representatives

The new law requires employers to notify the bargaining representatives of the employees who qualify as close contacts and the employee(s) infected with COVID-19. These notifications, like the others, must be in writing.

Exempt Facilities

Not every California employer must adhere to these reporting requirements. The previous reporting law, AB 685, exempted a number of employers. AB 654 expanded that list. As of December 2021, employers who are not required to report outbreaks to the local health agency include: 

  • Tribal health centers (including man outpatient centers)
  • Federally qualified health centers
  • Rural health clinics
  • Healthcare employers with employees licensed under the Business and Professions Code
  • Adult day health centers
  • Home health agencies
  • Pediatric respite health centers
  • Hospice centers
  • Community care facilities (including those with adults with special health care or chronic care needs)
  • Residential care facilities for the elderly
  • Child day care facilities


These changes do not represent major shifts, but employers are subject to fines and penalties for non-compliance. Integrated General Counsel can help your business satisfy all applicable requirements and implement the right legal framework. Call us at (925) 399-1529 (1LAW) to get your company where you want it to go.

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