Photo of Caroline B. Burnett

Caroline Burnett is a Knowledge Lawyer in Baker McKenzie’s North America Employment & Compensation Group. Caroline is passionate about analyzing trends in US and global employment law and developing innovative solutions to help multinationals stay ahead of the curve. Prior to joining Baker McKenzie in 2016, she had a broad employment law practice at a full-service, national firm. Caroline holds a J.D. from the University of San Francisco School of Law (2008) and a B.A. from Brown University (2002).

We’re thrilled to announce the release of a new edition of The Global Employer: Focus on Global Immigration & Mobility.

This handbook is the go-to resource for in-house counsel, human resource managers and global relocation professionals to identify key mobility issues — ranging from business immigration and compliance, to employment and compensation. It provides

Most U.S. employers have accepted that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the future of work. This is particularly true on the fundamental level of where employees work. Aside from looking around our own virtual workspaces, how do we know this?

First, since the start of the pandemic, employees have worked from home in unprecedented

On June 23, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to approve “right to reemployment” legislation that requires large employers to first offer laid-off workers their old jobs back before offering employment to new applicants (“Ordinance”). It will become effective immediately upon Mayor London Breed’s signature and will expire upon the 61st day following enactment unless extended.

Advocates of the Ordinance argued the requirement is necessary to ensure employers don’t use the pandemic as an opportunity to simply replace old workers with new employees who are younger and less expensive. Organizations lobbying against the Ordinance argued that it is overly burdensome; violates core constitutional principles; runs counter to several federal and state laws; and is extremely vulnerable to abuse. Similar legislation has surfaced in Los Angeles County as well. More on that to come.

Covered Employers

“Covered employers” are defined as for-profit and non-profit employers that directly or indirectly own or operate a business in the City or County of San Francisco and employ, or have employed, 100 or more employees on or after February 25, 2020.


Continue Reading San Francisco Provides Temporary Right to Reemployment Following Layoff Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

Across the country, minimum wage rates will increase July 1 in several counties, cities and states. A few jurisdictions have postponed their scheduled increases in light of the COVID-19 global pandemic, but most jurisdictions have not, and employers will need to implement the higher minimums by month’s end. Below we summarize for you the upcoming increases.

California

The Bay Area cities of Hayward and San Carlos voted to delay their local minimum wage increases until January 1, 2021. Other jurisdictions are considering delays, but for now, local minimum wages will increase in the following jurisdictions effective July 1, 2020.


Continue Reading Minimum Wage Increases in July 2020: Are You Prepared?

On June 10, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released new guidance, in the form of frequently asked questions and answers, regarding the use of masks in the workplace.

The new guidance outlines the differences between cloth face coverings, surgical masks and respirators. It further reminds employers not to use surgical masks or cloth face coverings when respirators are needed. In addition, the guidance notes the need for social distancing measures, even when workers are wearing cloth face coverings, and recommends following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance on washing face coverings. (For our FAQ on face coverings, click here.)

Importantly, the new guidance is not a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations. It contains recommendations as well as descriptions of mandatory safety and health standards. OSHA states that the “recommendations are advisory in nature, informational in content, and are intended to assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace.”

We’ve copied the most helpful OSHA FAQs here and underlined pertinent language for emphasis:

Are employers required to provide cloth face coverings to workers?

Cloth face coverings are not considered personal protective equipment (PPE) and are not intended to be used when workers need PPE for protection against exposure to occupational hazards. As such, OSHA’s PPE standards do not require employers to provide them.


Continue Reading OSHA Guidance on Wearing Masks in the Workplace

Join us for Part 3 of our webinar series on the USMCA, as we approach entry-into-force of the agreement on July 1, 2020.  In this webinar, “USMCA: Labor Rules and Trade Remedies,” Baker McKenzie experts from the United States, Mexico and Canada will discuss how to prepare for enforcement under the Rapid Response

US employers are rethinking how and where their employees work as a result of COVID-19 and shelter in place orders. Whether your company is considering rolling out telecommuting options for the first time or has allowed telecommuting for years, setting expectations and establishing clear guidelines is critical for your workforce.

Here are 10 key ingredients

Due to the pandemic, employees in the US are working from home in unprecedented numbers. Some, particularly in tech, may be working from home through the end of the year, or even permanently! While working from home raises a myriad of issues (e.g., data privacy and security, health and safety, employee engagement, and more), this post focuses on expense reimbursements related to telecommuting. The trickiest areas are cell phones and internet given that employees are now working from home because they cannot go into the office, as opposed to perhaps at their convenience.

Reimbursement Obligations

There is no federal requirement to reimburse employees for business-related expenses. However, several states (including California, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Montana and New York) have legislation requiring reimbursement for necessary businesses expenses. For example, California Labor Code Section 2802(a) requires an employer to “indemnify his or her employee for all necessary expenditures or losses incurred by the employee in direct consequence of the discharge of his or her duties, or of his or her obedience to the directions of the employer….” Failing to reimburse employees can lead to class or collective actions and quickly become incredibly burdensome for employers. Under California law, an employer that does not reimburse employees risks a lawsuit where the damages will include not just the unreimbursed expenses but the attorney’s fees incurred by the employee seeking reimbursement. The employee can also ask the Labor Commissioner to cite the employer or anyone acting on the employer’s behalf under Labor Code Section 2802(d). Where the practice is widespread (or just alleged to be) the claims can be brought on a class-wide basis.


Continue Reading Reimbursement Refresher: Cell Phone and Internet Expenses Related to Telecommuting in the US

As companies develop their reopening playbook, health & safety is of course the top line concern. Face coverings have emerged as one of the most popular preventative measures for mitigating the spread of the virus. For employers, questions abound about obligations related to face coverings.

We’ve been helping multinational companies navigate the use of face coverings in the workplace. Here are answers to some of the most common questions in the US:

  • Does the CDC require the use of face coverings in the workplace?

No. At this point, there is no federal requirement that employees wear face coverings in the workplace. The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. See here.

The CDC also recommends using cloth face coverings, and not surgical masks or N-95 respirators, which are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders.

  • Does OSHA require the use of face coverings in the workplace?

No, except in specific workplaces where there is a higher risk of airborne exposures. OSHA has not required employees to wear masks at work as a result of COVID-19, except in certain settings such as hospitals and other workplaces where Personal Protective Equipment was required before the pandemic.


Continue Reading Face Coverings: Q&A for US Employers