The bill is unnecessary as the protections it proposes are already in place in both state and federal law. It creates no new protections for employees but instead adds a significant administrative burden to employers in a time when they should be focused on providing essential services to the public and assuring compliance with COVID safety protocols for the protection of employees and customers alike.
Specifically, this bill would mandate that employers inform workers when an employee has contracted a disease related to the state of emergency and of a worker's potential exposure to disease – Section 5 (a) (1) of the OSHA Act requires all employers “shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.” Employers are already required to inform employees of the presence of an occupational hazard and to provide information on how employees can protect themselves from this hazard. It is clear that a positive diagnosis of a potentially fatal disease meets these criteria. Employers have a clear obligation to notify its employees should this occur.
The bill proposes that each employee receive written notice, in their own language, of such an infection. Requiring this administratively burdensome step would slow the notification process and increase risk to employees. Employers should be able to determine the notification method most timely and effective for their workforce.
During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic state of emergency, essential employers have performed admirably in working with their employees to provide essential goods and services to the public. From keeping the lights on to ensuring the supply chain for food and other necessities, essential employers and their workers have provided an essential public service. To ask these employers to now bear additional costs, to comply with a new duplicative mandate relative to this public service is unproductive.
For these reasons, The Business Council, on behalf of its 2,400 members, opposes this bill.