On Thursday, Governor Newsom signed three more bills to protect California’s workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. California is already considered one of the most worker-friendly states to work during the pandemic, according to a recent Oxfam report which looks at measures like the amount of mandated paid leave and protection against forced return to work.
SB 1159 by Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) makes it easier for employees infected with COVID-19 to claim workers' compensation benefits. The law creates a rebuttable presumption that certain employees contracted the virus at work, thereby making them eligible for benefits.
AB 685 by Assemblymember Eloise Gómez Reyes (D-San Bernardino) requires businesses to inform their employees in writing within one business day if the business receives notice of a potential COVID exposure at the workplace. Under the new bill, CalOSHA is allowed to determine if certain workplaces are imminently hazardous enough to prevent certain operations and processes. Cal OSHA is also now authorized to issue citations for coronavirus violations without needing to follow the usual pre-citation requirements.
SB 1383 (19R) by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) expands the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). Starting in January 2021, SB 1383 will broaden coverage by extending job-protected leave to businesses with 5 or more employees, and by extending the list of relatives one can care for to include siblings, grandparents and grandchildren.
If you think you been denied family leave or have concerns about workplace safety, contact Teukolsky Law today for a free consultation.
On September 10, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 1867. Passage of the bill means that millions of Californians will now be eligible for up to 80 hours of supplemental paid sick leave during COVID-19. While many workers were already given paid sick leave under the federal FFCRA (Families First Coronavirus Response Act), this bill expands paid sick leave to employees working for private employers with more than 500 U.S.-based workers, and all health care providers and emergency response workers not covered under FFCRA. The bill also codifies existing paid sick leave provisions for food service workers.
To qualify for the expanded leave, the employee must perform work outside their home or residence and satisfy one of the following conditions: 1) be advised by a medical provider to quarantine due to coronavirus-related concerns; 2) due to COVID-19 concerns, not be permitted to work; or 3) be under a federal, state, or local isolation or quarantine order. The legislation will be enforced through the Labor Commissioner’s office; there is no private right of action to sue the employer directly in court.
New regulations such as these are essential for containing the spread of the coronavirus because they create a pathway for workers to stay home and not risk their health or their income. Keeping sick workers at home also stops the spread of COVID-19 to the general public. We are grateful to live in California, which was recently ranked #1 by Oxfam in terms of worker protections in a study entitled, "Best States to Work During COVID-19." Hopefully, California will continue to lead the way in worker’s rights legislation during the pandemic.
If you believe that your employer has failed to provide you with paid sick leave or you have any questions about your rights during the COVID-19 crisis, contact Teukolsky Law today for a free consultation.
Teukolsky Law attorney Ella Hushagen has created a new video for the California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA) discussing health insurance options following job loss. This topic is particularly germane for hundreds of thousands of Californians who are predicted to lose their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Losing health insurance during one of the biggest public health crises in recent memory is unimaginably stressful and could have ruinous consequences for individuals who require significant medical intervention as a result of COVID-19. In some cases, an employee's entire family will lose health coverage. It is important for all employees to understand their options and to have health care coverage. Watch Ella's video here.
CELA is a statewide organization of over 1,200 California attorneys who devote the major portion of their practices to representing employees in individual employment cases and class actions, including cases involving unpaid wages, discrimination, harassment, retaliation and whistleblowing.
Healthcare workers are on the front lines battling the COVID-19 pandemic. More than ever, health care facilities must provide workers safe and lawful working conditions.
The law requires health care facilities — such as hospitals, nursing homes, outpatient clinics, laboratories, and medical transportation services — to protect workers from COVID-19 infection by providing: 1) written exposure control procedures; 2) training; 3) work practices designed to limit exposure; and 4) personal protective equipment (PPE), including gloves, gowns, eye protection and masks. More information about these requirements can be found here.
The novel Coronavirus has generated unprecedented demand for PPE supplies, and hospitals are running perilously low on masks. The California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) has issued interim guidance on Coronavirus regarding efficient use of masks, and when and how they may be reused. The guidance cautions that surgical and other non-respirator face masks do not prevent the inhalation of virus particles, and should not be used. More information can be found here.
California law protects workers from being fired or otherwise retaliated against for refusing to work under unsafe conditions, or for making a complaint regarding safety. Call us today at (626) 522-8982 for a free legal consult if you think you have been subjected to unlawful retaliation.
Lauren Teukolsky is the founder and owner of Teukolsky Law, A Professional Corporation.