As American businesses begin to reopen after strict government shutdowns aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), many employers are encountering employees who refuse to return to work. Whatever the motivation – high unemployment benefits, family benefits or fear of infection – it is important for employers and employees to understand their rights… and consequences.

Layoff v. Furlough

First, at the onset of the government restrictions, many employers were faced with a decision to either layoff or furlough employees. A layoff is an involuntary separation between an employer and an employee that occurs through no fault of the employee. Typically, layoffs occur when there is not enough work. A furlough is considered to be an alternative to a layoff. It can be administered in different ways, such as a reduction in work hours or a requirement for the employee to take a certain amount of unpaid time off. However, unlike a layoff, the furloughed worker remains an employee. As such, a furlough is akin to an unpaid leave of absence. The employee is guaranteed working hours once business resumes.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which includes the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, is a new law passed by the federal government in response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus). The law provides paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave to employees impacted by COVID-19.

When does the law start?

The FFCRA’s paid leave provisions are effective on April 1, 2020, and apply to leave taken between April 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020.

On March 19, 2020, the Governor of California issued a “Safer at Home” Order and declared that only essential businesses should remain open to the public. Other states have issued similar mandates. Currently, millions of Americans have already lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) crisis and, according to a Federal Reserve estimate, the projected unemployment total could reach 47 million.

Employers all around the country are struggling with how to respond to this difficult situation. The following information is intended to help employers make an informed decision.

Layoffs

COVID-19 (Cornoavirus) was first identified in Wuhan, China in late 2019 and has since spread across the globe. The rapid response of federal, state and local governments has created an adverse impact on local businesses. At Davis & Wojcik APLC, our goal is to help businesses survive COVID-19.

Workplace Safety

California’s Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1973 (“Cal-OSHA”) requires that employers provide “safe and healthful working conditions for all California working men and women.” (Labor Code § 6300). This includes protecting workers exposed to airborne infectious diseases such as the coronavirus.

The Federal Government has passed urgent legislation in response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in order to ease the financial impact on families impacted by the disease. The following are important laws that every employee should know about should they become infected by COVID-19.

Paid Sick Time Laws

California has been at the forefront of sick time laws. Currently, California law requires that employers provide 24 hours (or 3 days) of paid sick leave per year for full-time employees, which can be used beginning on the 90th day of employment.

COVID-19 (Cornoavirus) has shaken the U.S. and World economies. Many businesses are shutting down to stop the spread. This has raised important some important employment law issues. Here are a few frequently asked questions.

What is the best practice for employers regarding COVID-19?

The Department of Industrial Relations has made the following recommendations for employers

California has some of the strictest labor laws in the country and employers are expected to comply with nearly every aspect of the employee relationship. The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) is charged with investigating wages, hours, and working conditions of employees. Most employers are familiar with meal and rest breaks, but there are some lesser-known laws that could create employer liability if ignored.

Temperature

Want to save money by cutting the air conditioner? Not so fast. In California, the temperature maintained at work “shall provide reasonable comfort consistent with industry-wide standards for the nature of the process and the work performed.” Wage Order 7, Section 15.

As expected, the legal battles over AB5 (California’s Independent Contractor Law) have begun.

The American Society of Journalists and Authors and the National Press Photographers Association have filed a lawsuit challenging AB-5 on constitutional grounds (First and Fourteenth Amendment), as the law only allows 35 submissions per year for the same publication without becoming an employee.

In November 2018, the California Trucking Association is challenging AB5 on the basis that it runs afoul of federal law which prohibits states from enforcing any law related to the price, route, or service of a motor carrier.

Employment law is constantly evolving. Every year, the state of California passes new labor laws that impact the employment relationship. The following are some of the most prominent changes that will take effect on January 1, 2020.

AB 5: Independent Contractors

AB 5 codifies California Supreme Court’s 2018 decision in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court, making it more difficult to treat workers are independent contractors. The passage of this bill has been discussed in depth in a previous blog article.

On September 18, 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law, Assembly Bill 5 (“AB5”), codifying the landmark case of Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles (2018) 4 Cal.5th 903 (Dynamex), which made it more difficult for employers to classify workers as independent contractors.

Dynamex, and now AB5, establish a presumption that a worker who performs services for a hirer is an employee for purposes of claims for wages and benefits arising under wage orders issued by the Industrial Welfare Commission. In addition, AB5 reaffirms the 3-part test of Dynamex, commonly known as the “ABC” test, to establish that a worker is an independent contractor.

Under the ABC Test, a person providing labor or services for remuneration shall be considered an employee rather than an independent contractor unless the hiring entity demonstrates that:

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