California is Issuing More Orders for California Employers to Watch

California is Issuing More Orders for California Employers to Watch

This week CNN reported on “What California is doing right in response to the coronavirus pandemic.”  The article points to numerous factors:  the early actions of Governor Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in securing equipment such as masks and ventilators;  the elimination of limits on who can apply to be tested in Los Angeles (you no longer need to be over 65 with an underlying medical condition); a rule mandating face masks at businesses that are open in Los Angeles; Silicon Valley’s early adoption on March 5 of work-from-home policies; cities in northern California issuing “shelter in place” orders the day before St Patrick’s Day (which is a huge mixing event); and the Governor’s March 19 statewide “stay-at-home” order. 

As of April 8, 2020, authorities reported that California has had more than 17,000 COVID-19 cases; New York had 140,000.  The Golden State has only 452 deaths to New York’s more than 5,000.  We are doing something right – we’re fortunate, and focused on wishing the best for our fellow Americans across the country.

It’s become challenging to keep up with the almost daily new restrictions on individuals and businesses, but employers struggling to keep open must do so.  Today, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti published several additional emergency orders and memorandum pertaining to COVID-19.  Here are a few of them:

  1. Worker Protection Order:  This order focuses on non-medical essential workers.  It requires them to wear non-medical grade face coverings while performing their work.  The face coverings need not be medical-grade masks or N95 respirators, but may be fabric coverings.  The coverings must be washed at least once a day..  If the face coverings are single use, they must be properly discarded.  Next, the Worker Protection Order requires employers who remain open to their employees to wash their hands at least every 30 minutes and provide, at their expense, the non-medical face coverings required by the order .  Further, employers must provide sanitary restrooms stocked with cleansing products or sanitizing agents, and implement social distancing measures (6 feet!)  for customers, visitors, and employees.  Visitors and customers of the non-medical essential businesses must wear fabric face coverings, and businesses may refuse admission or service to anyone who refuses to wear a face covering.   The Mayor also “encouraged” business owners to install Plexiglas separating cashiers from the customer.
  2. Grocery, Drug Retail and Food Delivery Worker Protection:  In another order, the Mayor revised the local ordinance governing delivery services food, drugs, and grocery.  The revisions grant such employees the right to make schedule changes, or refuse to fulfill orders, in order to provide child care or care for a sick family member or to recover from illness.  Before an employer in this section can hire a new employee through a contract or tempstaffing agency, the employer must first offer the work to qualified current employees.
  3. Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Due to COVID-19:  Effective April 7, 2020, another order tracks directly with the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (HR6201).    But the Mayor clarifies that an employee may make a verbal request for family leave under that scheme and that the employer may not demand a doctor’s note.  That order recognizes how difficult it is to get a doctor appointment during the pandemic. .

The Mayor made numerous groups exempt, including Emergency and Health Service Personnel (all first responders, gang and crisis intervention workers, public health workers, emergency management personnel, emergency dispatchers, law enforcement personnel, and related contractors and others working for emergency services providers); critical parcel delivery services; ; employers that already have generous leave policies allowing 160 hours of paid leave per year; new businesses that came to the city on or after September 4, 2019; government agency employees working within the course and scope of their public service employment; and closed businesses and organizations.

A full listing of the City of Los Angeles COVID-19 orders is available here.  The lawyers of Brown White & Osborn LLP are available to answer your questions about the impact of any of California’s swiftly updating laws and orders on your business and your rights.

A.J. Beechko

Andrew (AJ) Beechko is special counsel with Brown White & Osborn LLP.He handles a variety of corporate transactional matters providing general counsel services to executives of small and large nonprofit and for-profit corporations.