California businesses are feeling more and more burden over continuing COVID-19 restrictions, as the state remains the epicenter of the virus outbreak. In December, groups representing small businesses sued California over its new COVID-19 rules from Cal-OSHA. The small businesses felt the rules that require businesses to pay for COVID-19 testing and pay sick workers would endanger their ability to survive.
New workplace rules about testing
The rules state that businesses must:
- pay to test all employees who were onsite when an outbreak occurred
- retest those same employees one week later
California defined an outbreak of three tests of business employees in 14 days. The lawsuit notes that businesses may have to pay for hundreds, if not thousands, of COVID-19 tests because of these requirements, an expensive burden.
New workplace rules about sick pay and required quarantines
Business also have to continue to pay workers when they are sick or can’t be at work because of exposure to COVID-19. The businesses’ lawsuit claims though that Cal-OSHA can’t require businesses to pay employees who aren’t working.
In addition, the provisions require that businesses allow workers who have been exposed to COVID-19 to stay home for 14-day quarantines. The suit noted that this measure could cause supply problems when distribution center workers are exposed. So many distribution center employees may have to stay home that that needed supplies can’t get out to California stores and healthcare settings.
It’s uncertain now when California’s rollout of COVID-19 vaccines will impact California’s virus positivity rate. If the vaccines help curb the pandemic, businesses could begin to see fewer restrictions in the coming months.