The dome and exterior of the State Capitol building is viewed on January 27, 2015, in Sacramento, California. With the coronavirus spreading faster than public health officials can track it, California could become one of the first states to mandate that businesses notify workers and state officials any time an employee has been exposed to the disease.
A bill moving through the state’s Democratic-controlled state Legislature would require companies to notify people no later than 24 hours after they knew or should have known about an employee’s exposure to the virus. Violators could be charged with a crime and fined $10,000.
California law already requires companies to report deaths and serious incidents that occur in the workplace, but it’s only recommended that they report infections, according to Assemblywoman Eloise Gomez Reyes, a Democrat from Grand Terrace and the author of the bill.
“If we are serous about getting this pandemic under control, we must get serious about creating a comprehensive reporting framework,” Reyes said.
Last month, Virginia became the first state to approve temporary workplace safety rules that require notifications when a worker tests positive for the virus. But California’s proposal would go further by requiring notification anytime an employee has been exposed to the virus.
Business groups, including the California Chamber of Commerce, are lining up against the bill, arguing it will be impossible to comply with it. But California’s powerful labor unions are pushing hard for the bill as more people are returning to work. They include Laurinda Fiddler, who works at Disneyland and is a member of the United Food and Commercial Workers union.
“We are exposed by people from all over […]