Photo of Robin Samuel

On May 6, 2020, Governor Newsom issued Executive Order N-62-20, creating a rebuttable presumption that an employee’s COVID-19-related illness arises out of employment for purposes of obtaining workers’ compensation benefits. This is not the first order of its kind; other states including Alaska, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Utah, and Wisconsin, have imposed similar rebuttable presumptions. However, most of these jurisdictions have limited the rebuttable presumption to first responders. California’s order doesn’t.

At the federal level, House Democrats are looking to follow suit, proposing a similar presumption for certain federal workers under the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (the “HEROES Act”). If enacted as proposed, the HEROES Act would create a presumption that certain federal employees who contract COVID-19 did so in the course and scope of their employment if the employees have a risk of exposure to COVID-19 at work and on-the-job contact with patients, members of the public, or co-workers. A similar presumption would apply to certain maritime workers.  The House passed the HEROES Act by a vote of 208-199 on May 15, 2020, but tremendous opposition is expected when the bill reaches the Republican dominated Senate.

Is California’s order likely to stick?

It’s difficult to tell. California business owners are unhappy with the likely significant increase in workers’ compensation liabilities and the inequity of shifting the cost of employees’ COVID-19 illnesses to employers. Challenges to the California order would not be surprising.


Continue Reading Are You Sure You Contracted COVID-19 at Work? California Thinks So

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

As Companies develop their reopening playbook, we know that many are considering instituting temperature screening procedures either as a precaution or because local Orders may require it. Here’s the *tl;dr* on temp checks (it’s okay if you need to look that up . . . some of us did too):

Temperature checks

Welcome to Baker McKenzie’s Labor and Employment video chat series! In these quick and bite-sized video chats, our employment partners team up with practitioners in various areas of law to discuss the most pressing issues for employers navigating the return to work.

This series builds on our recent client alert and webinar on reopening for

This webinar recording covers government orders, creating a timeline, workplace safety and prevention strategies, testing and health screening, labor agreements, workforce communication, managing employee concerns, and litigation mitigation.

Please see below the webinar materials as well as additional resources.

We are pleased to share a recent SHRM article, “What to Do When Scared Workers Don’t Report to Work Due to COVID-19,” with quotes from Robin Samuel. This articles discusses several topics including employee’s legal rights and how to respond to an essential worker’s fear of returning to work.

Click here to view the article.

Join us Thursday, April 30 for our next COVID-19 webinar as we discuss the challenges US employers will face when bringing employees back into the workplace while maintaining appropriate safety. The webinar will cover eight key considerations for employers to address in planning for a reopening of the workplace.

  1. Government Orders
  2. Timing
  3. Workplace Safety &

With signs that the virus is peaking in the US, and with some state Shelter-in-Place Orders scheduled to be lifted in the coming weeks, employers are turning their attention to planning for how best to bring employees back to work.

As with the initial outbreak, US employers can look to other corners of the world

In the wake of the global pandemic, many companies need to take quick action to reduce costs. This 40 minute webinar, co-hosted by the ACC Southern California Chapter, outlines the various cost-cutting strategies available to employers in the US, and walk participants through the major considerations necessary to minimize legal risk. Our speakers discuss how

We recently covered the new paid sick and family leave requirements under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) here. The FFCRA marks the first time Congress required federal paid leave for private sector workers. That is not the case at the state and municipal level, where for years, employers have had to navigate