California recently passed two new laws related to COVID19 that every employer needs to know.

Employee Notification

Assembly Bill 685, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2021, requires California employers that receive notice of potential exposure to COVID-19 to “provide specified notifications to its employees within one business day of the notice of potential exposure.”

In September 2019, the state of California passed a law that made it more difficult for employers to classify workers as independent contractors. The law was received with much criticism because “nonsensical exemptions” for only a select professions.

The state legislature is back at it for 2020. On September 4, 2020, Governor Newsom signed AB 2257, which clarifies California’s independent contractor laws. The stringent ABC test remains the default standard, but there are now more exemptions for California business owners to learn thanks to heavy lobbying efforts. Well, not every lobbying effort created results. Gig economy companies, franchising, trucking and the motion picture and television industries all stuck out in receiving exemptions.

The new exemptions that were created by AB 2257 include:

There have been many recent news stories about people losing their jobs due to taking a political stance or being involved in protests. A former employee of Taco Bell claims he was terminated for wearing a Black Lives Matter mask at work. On the other side, a journalist was terminated by the Washington Examiner after a video went viral showing that she faked helping a local business board up windows.

This has raised the question – Can an employee be terminated for political speech or lawful activity outside of work?

Free Speech

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.

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