As we previously reported here, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board voted last week to amend Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) so that new mask and physical distance rules will apply in California workplaces effective June 15, 2021.  Now, less than four days later, the Standards Board has called a special board meeting for June 9 to consider “new information from the California Department of Public Health on pending guidance regarding COVID-19 Prevention, and take action if appropriate.” The Standards Board will hold this special meeting in advance of its regularly-scheduled Standards Board meeting on June 17.  Employers should watch this new twist in the Cal/OSHA ETS saga closely.

Continue Reading NSFW: There Is Yet Another Twist in the Continuing Saga of Cal/OSHA’s Mask and Distance Mandates for California Workplaces

Mark Twain never actually said “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”  But had he sat in on yesterday’s (June 3, 2021) Cal/OSHA Standards Board meeting, he might have said something similar about the proposed amendments to Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (“ETS”).

And no one would blame him because, less than an hour after voting to reject the proposed amendments to the ETS, Cal/OSHA’s Standards Board completely changed course by voting unanimously to approve the amendments. The amended ETS, which will apply to most California employers and workplaces, is expected to take effect June 15.

What does this mean for California employers?

In summary, the amendments will require employees who work indoors to continue wearing face coverings indefinitely, except in certain limited circumstances, but also will allow employers to relax physical distancing requirements after confirming which employees are fully vaccinated and providing unvaccinated employees with respirators for their voluntary use.


Continue Reading Cal/OSHA Board Votes to Approve Amendments to COVID-19 ETS Almost Immediately After Voting To Reject Them

Apparently Cal/OSHA is not yet ready for California workplaces to do away with masks and social distancing, despite the recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) and California state guidance allowing fully vaccinated persons to forgo masks and distancing indoors. On May 28, 2021, Cal/OSHA’s Standards Board – a seven member body appointed by the Governor that is responsible for adopting “reasonable and enforceable standards” for the agency – published proposed amendments to the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) currently applicable to most worksites. Though many thought Cal/OSHA would fall in line with the California state guidance saying that vaccinated employees do not need not to wear masks or physically separate indoors as of June 15 (and leaving it up to employers to figure out how to determine who is vaccinated and who is not), Cal/OSHA appears to be leaning in a different direction.

Face coverings required indefinitely for indoor worksites

If the Standards Board approves the proposed amendments to the ETS at its upcoming June 3 meeting, Cal/OSHA will continue to require face coverings for all indoor worksites, with no end date specified. Employers will have to provide and “ensure” employees wear face coverings indoors, unless all persons “in a room” are fully vaccinated and do not have COVID-19 symptoms. In that case, the employees in that room don’t have to wear face coverings.

Otherwise, with only relatively minor exceptions for employees who cannot wear face coverings due to medical or mental health conditions or disabilities, or for tasks that cannot be performed while wearing a face covering, face coverings will be required indoors without regard to vaccination status.

For outdoor worksites, employees must wear face coverings if they are within six feet of other persons unless they are fully vaccinated and do not have COVID-19 symptoms (of course, under the ETS, employers should keep any employees who have COVID-19 symptoms away from the work place in any event).


Continue Reading Cal/OSHA Signals That It Intends to Require Masks and Physical Distancing Throughout the Summer — In Stark Contrast to California’s Targeted Reopening Date of June 15

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