As vaccination rates increase, officials across the country are reconsidering their health and safety protocols and workplace reopening guidance. Here are a few of the most recent changes that employers need to know.

On-site Employee Health Screening No Longer Required in San Francisco but Masks and Distancing Remain

On May 20, 2021, San Francisco’s Department of Public Health updated the city’s Health Order to loosen COVID-19 restrictions. Under the new rules, businesses are no longer required to perform health screenings for all personnel and patrons, unless required by the state. Public health officials credited the ongoing vaccination effort in bringing COVID-19 cases to the lowest levels seen during the pandemic. As of May 19, 76% of eligible San Francisco residents have been vaccinated, one of the highest vaccination rates in the country.


Continue Reading The Shifting Sands of COVID-19 Regulations: New Rules Regarding Health Screening, Vaccine Cards and Vaccine Passports

On May 18, 2021, Santa Clara County became among the first jurisdictions in the world to issue an Order requiring employers to determine if employees are vaccinated. Santa Clara County employers will need to move quickly, because the Order requires compliance within two weeks.

Here’s what Santa Clara County employers need to know now to

On April 16, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a statewide right of recall law (Senate Bill 93). SB 93 is similar to the Los Angeles City recall ordinance and the San Francisco right to reemployment legislation. It is effective immediately and will remain in effect through December 31, 2024.

Here’s what you need to know:  

Covered Employers

The new law does not apply to all employers. It applies generally to hotels, private clubs, event centers, airport hospitality operations, and airport service providers, while also applying specifically to janitorial, building maintenance and security services provided to office, retail and other commercial buildings.

Important Definitions:

  • “Hotel” means a residential building that is designated or used for lodging and other related services for the public, and containing 50 or more guest rooms, or suites of rooms (adjoining rooms do not constitute a suite of rooms). “Hotel” also includes any contracted, leased, or sublet premises connected to or operated in conjunction with the building’s purpose, or providing services at the building.
  • “Private club” means a private, membership-based business or nonprofit organization that operates a building or complex of buildings containing at least 50 guest rooms or suites of rooms that are offered as overnight lodging to members.
  • “Event center” means a publicly or privately owned structure of more than 50,000 square feet or 1,000 seats that is used for the purposes of public performances, sporting events, business meetings, or similar events, and includes concert halls, stadiums, sports arenas, racetracks, coliseums, and convention centers.
    • The term “event center” also includes any contracted, leased, or sublet premises connected to or operated in conjunction with the event center’s purpose, including food preparation facilities, concessions, retail stores, restaurants, bars, and structured parking facilities.
  • “Airport hospitality operation” means a business that prepares, delivers, inspects, or provides any other service in connection with the preparation of food or beverage for aircraft crew or passengers at an airport, or that provides food and beverage, retail, or other consumer goods or services to the public at an airport.
  • “Airport service provider” means a business that performs, under contract with a passenger air carrier, airport facility management, or airport authority, functions on the property of the airport that are directly related to the air transportation of persons, property, or mail, including, but not limited to, the loading and unloading of property on aircraft, assistance to passengers under Part 382 (commencing with Section 382.1) of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations, security, airport ticketing and check-in functions, ground-handling of aircraft, aircraft cleaning and sanitization functions, and waste removal.
  • “Building service” means janitorial, building maintenance, or security services.


Continue Reading California Establishes Statewide Right to Recall for COVID-Related Layoffs Limited to Certain Industries

In brief

The California Supreme Court recently established new law on two important topics for meal period compliance and litigation. Donohue v. AMN Services, LLC (2021) San Diego Superior Court, Case No. S253677 (February 25, 2021). First, the Court held that California employers cannot round time punches for meal periods. Second, the Court held that time records showing noncompliant meal periods raise a rebuttable presumption of meal period violations. The Donohue Court also implicitly approved a method for employers to use to determine whether meal period premiums should be paid for missed, short or late meal periods.


Continue Reading California Rejects Meal Period Rounding

The California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) recently updated its “Guide to COVID-19 Related Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]” to include wage and hour issues arising out of employer-mandated COVID-19 tests or vaccinations.

On March 4, 2021, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) confirmed that an employer does not violate the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) by requiring employees to receive an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine so long as the employer does not discriminate against or harass employees or job applicants on the basis of protected characteristics, provides reasonable accommodations related to disability or sincerely-held religious beliefs or practices, and does not retaliate against employees who engage in protected activity, such as requesting an accommodation. While this guidance arguably protects employers against FEHA claims, employers should not take the DFEH’s guidance as permission to mandate vaccines in other contexts, and it is not yet clear whether employers can safely mandate vaccines approved only under Emergency Use Authorizations by the Food and Drug Administration.

If employers can legally mandate vaccines, the question becomes whether employers must pay for the time spent being vaccinated. Now, the DIR has weighed in on employer obligations to pay for tests and vaccines when mandated by the employer.

For ease of reference, the FAQ is copied here.

    1. Is my employer required to compensate me for the time spent obtaining a COVID-19 test or vaccination?

If the employer requires an employee to obtain a COVID-19 test or vaccination (see Department of Fair Employment and Housing FAQs for guidance on the types of COVID-19 tests an employer may require and on vaccination), then the employer must pay for the time it takes for the testing or vaccination, including travel time.


Continue Reading California Requires Employers to Compensate Employees for Time Spent Obtaining a COVID-19 Test or Vaccination

As previously covered, California reinstated and expanded COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave last week. For more on the law’s requirements, click here.

The new law requires employers to give employees notice of the leave benefit:

  • The California Labor Commissioner has issued a model poster available here and FAQs are available here.
  • The poster

Last Friday, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 95 into law, providing California employees with up to two weeks of supplemental paid sick leave (SPSL) for COVID-19 absences, including paid time off for vaccination. The new law reinstates and expands the prior California supplemental paid sick leave law that expired on December 31, 2020

Government agencies are increasingly setting their sights on larger targets, ramping up enforcement efforts to root out systemic discrimination. This has important ramifications for employers who may suddenly find themselves defending a claim that, for all intents and purposes, feels like a class action, even though it started as an individual agency charge. With advancements in technology, large data sets on workforces are more common than ever, and government agencies are taking advantage of this and will not hesitate to request data on classes of individuals to search for trends indicating potential discrimination.

EEOC Intensifies Campaign against Systemic Discrimination

In her first public speech since being named as Chair of the EEOC, Charlotte Burrows pledged that the federal government’s workplace civil rights agency will emphasize enforcement of laws to combat systemic discrimination. This commitment to addressing systemic discrimination is consistent with President Biden’s plans to combat racism. (In January, Biden signed an executive order creating a government-wide “racial equity review” and underscoring enforcement of anti-discrimination laws. Read more here.)


Continue Reading Government Agencies Eye Larger Targets: How Employers Can Navigate the Increase in Systemic Litigation

With special thanks to Lothar Determann for this post.

The California Privacy Rights Act of 2020 (CPRA) introduces sweeping changes to the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA), which already imposes an obligation on California employers to issue privacy notices to employees since January 1, 2020. These notices must be updated as

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) closed this most recent legislative season by signing dozens of new bills into law that affect California employers. Though some were emergency bills and took effect upon signing, the remainder take effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

The laws are wide-ranging, encompassing topics from pandemic-related measures, to the first board of