The Impact of COVID-19
We are all facing unprecedented, unexpected challenges during this time. All of the essential workers in our ranks are working harder than ever to keep our communities safe, healthy, and powered. We are developing resources to support our workers and will continually update this page as we have new information to share.
NEW California Laws, Standards, and Guidelines Expanding COVID-19 Protections for Workers
In March 2021, Gov. Newsom signed a new law requiring payment of 80 hours of supplemental paid sick leave for full-time employees for COVID-19 related reasons, including if you are sick with COVID-19, under quarantine, caring for a family member who has it, getting a vaccine, etc. This expands on the now-defunct 2020 Emergency FMLA provisions by allowing employees to use leave to care for family members, and it applies to employers with 26 or more workers. The provisions are retroactive to January 1, 2021, and are in effect until September 30, 2021.
If you think your employer wrongfully denied your use of sick leave based on the new provisions of this law, please contact your steward or union representative for more assistance.
Effective January 1, 2021, all employers must report COVID-19 exposures to both employees and their unions. This notification must happen in writing within one day of the exposure. If an employer normally communicates with its employees via email, the notification should come via email.
AB 685 also requires that employers provide employees who may have been exposed and their union with information regarding COVID-19 related benefits to which those employees may be entitled under federal, state, or local laws and the employer’s sick leave or negotiated leave provisions.
Failure to notify workers of exposures has been a major concern for ESC Local 20 members. Please look for this notice in your workplace and help your union representatives enforce this law, for your sake and the sake of your coworkers, and for patients’ health.
This law creates a disputable presumption that a COVID-19 illness was work-related for an employee who suffers illness or death resulting from COVID-19 between July 6, 2020 and January 1, 2023.
This presumption applies to all employees who work for an employer with five or more employees and who test positive during an outbreak in their workplace. The law also applies to specific categories of workers, including health care workers who provide patient care at health care facilities or for a home health agency even without an outbreak.
In November 2020, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards (CAl-OSHA) Board approved a petition filed by Worksafe and the National Lawyers Guild for a temporary emergency standard to help protect workers from contracting COVID-19. The standard applies to most workers in California, other than healthcare workers who are covered by the Aerosol Transmissible Disease Standard, and is effective immediately.
The emergency standard requires that employers implement a site-specific written COVID-19 prevention program to address COVID-19 health hazards, correct unsafe or unhealthy conditions, and provide face coverings. When there are multiple COVID-19 infections or outbreaks at the worksite, employers must provide COVID-19 testing and notify public health departments. The regulations also require accurate record-keeping and reporting of COVID-19 cases.
In November, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) set forth COVID-19 testing guidance for Acute Care facilities employees and patients. As part of this guidance, CDPH strongly recommends Acute Care facilities begin weekly testing for all healthcare personnel effective December 14, 2020. Facilities are also strongly encouraged to complete the General Acute Care Hospital COVID-19 Mitigation Testing Plan form and submit it to their local licensing district office.
Although this is only “strongly recommended guidance” from the Department of Public Health, we notified our healthcare employers that we expect their compliance with these standards for the safety of ESC Local 20 members and all of our communities.
Health & Safety
COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards FAQs for General Industry: California recently approved Cal/OSHA emergency temporary standards on COVID-19 infection prevention. These new temporary standards apply to most workers in California not covered by Cal/OSHA’s Aerosol Transmissible Diseases standard.
Emergency Benefit Information
- CA State Disability Leave- COVID-19 Positive or Exposed
- CA Paid Family Leave
- CA Unemployment – School Closures
- CA Unemployment – Reduced Hours or Shut Down
General Information for Workers