Articles Posted in Posts for Employers

The COVID-19 pandemic has created many unique situations for employers. The effects of the pandemic and ensuing government regulations have impacted every household differently. Some employees may struggle with childcare while others may fear exposure. The standard “playbook” for handing common employment issues has been torn up and employers are required to make decisions with very little guidance. Here are some tips for how handle unique employment situations that have arisen during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What should I do if an employee has symptoms of COVID-19?

If an employee has symptoms of COVID-19 when they arrive at work or become sick during the day, the employee should immediately be separated from other employees, customers, and visitors and sent home. A policy should be in place requiring employees who develop symptoms outside of work to notify their supervisor and stay home.

On September 30, 2020, Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill 973 requiring large employers to report certain pay and other data to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) by March 31, 2021 and annually thereafter. Specifically, SB 973 requires employers of 100 or more employees to report to DFEH pay and hours-worked data by job category and by sex, race, and ethnicity (hereinafter “pay data”).

The desire of the government to obtain pay information is nothing new. On January 29, 2016, President Obama announced a series of actions intended to close the gender pay equity gap, including proposed revisions to the EEO-1 form that would require the submission of detailed pay information. However, in August 2017, the Trump Administration put a halt to the implementation of this new rule.” Following a federal court ruling, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was ordered to and did collect these data for 2017 and 2018. Since then, the EEOC has stopped collecting the data.

However, there are some stark differences to the federal law. Under the Gender Recognition Act of 2017 (Senate Bill 179), California officially recognizes three genders: female, male, and nonbinary. Therefore, employers would be required to report employees’ sex according to these three categories. Employee self-identification is the preferred method of identifying sex information.

With each new year comes new responsibilities for employers. While the California legislature was less busy due to a brief COVID shutdown, there are still some key laws that every employer must know for 2021.

COVID-19 Paid Leave

In California, there are five laws regarding COVID-related leave. The first two have been in place for many years — California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and Labor Code § 246 (Sick Leave). In April 2020, the federal government passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Emergency Paid Family & Medical Leave, which expanded the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The laws that were passed by the federal government applied only to employers with fewer than 500 employees and there was an exemption for small employers who could prove that expanded leave would jeopardize the business. However, in September 2020, the California legislature passed the COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (“CSPSL”) to make the federal laws applicable to all employers. The CSPSL also created new laws that will be addressed herein.

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

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.

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