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Judicial Council of California’s Emergency Orders Affecting Employment Actions

Due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19 pandemic on California’s judicial branch, The Judicial Council of California met yesterday and issued emergency rules related to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

California Court of Appeal Addresses Whether There are Limits to Vacation Payout Requirement for "Unlimited" Vacation Policies

On April 1, 2020, a California Court of Appeal issued a long-awaited decision relating to the use of so-called “unlimited” vacation plans. In McPherson v. EF Intercultural Foundation, Inc., the court ultimately did not decide the viability of such plans under California law, but instead held California law requires payout of vacation to certain employees under the fact-specific issues in this case.1 With respect to the ability of California employers to offer “unlimited” vacation plans to employees without the potential need to pay out this time when an employee separates from employment, the court stated, "[w]e by no means hold that all unlimited paid time off policies give rise to an obligation to pay 'unused' vacation when an employee leaves."

COVID-19 and the Pros and Cons of Paid Leave Donations and Leave-Sharing Policies in California

Unfortunately, given the fast spread of the disease, it is now not uncommon for employers to have at least one employee who has contracted COVID-19, forcing the employee to take extended time off from work. In many cases, these employees will not have enough paid time off available to keep them paid until they are able to return to work. In some workplaces, generous co-workers are willing to donate their paid time off to the sick employee, and employers are exploring ways to implement paid-time-off donation or leave-sharing policies. As with everything in California, paid-time-off donation and leave-sharing policies present challenges and, if not implemented correctly, could come back to haunt the employer and the employees.

San Diego County, California Updates Health Order: New Posting and Facial Covering Requirements for Essential Employers, and Warnings Regarding Increased Enforcement

Summary: On Thursday April 2, 2020, the County Health Office for San Diego County issued Addendum 1 to the County’s existing Order and Emergency Regulations. Effective at 12:00 am, April 4, 2020, employers in San Diego County who remain open in accordance with State and County Orders must adhere to strict requirements regarding face coverings for employees. Those employers also must complete and post their Social Distancing and Sanitation Protocol at or near the entrance of the facility where it is easily viewable to the public and employees no later than 12:00 am, April 7, 2020, and then adhere to that Protocol until further notice. In announcing Addendum 1, San Diego County officials stressed that law enforcement agencies have been instructed to strictly enforce the County’s Order and violators are subject to a misdemeanor citation with penalties up to $1,000 or 6 months in jail, and called upon the public to report businesses they see in violation.

New "Shelter in Place" Orders in the Bay Area Implement Additional Restrictions on Businesses and Residents

As you are all well aware, over the past several weeks counties throughout California have issued restrictive “shelter in place” orders (discussed in detail here and here).

Oakland County, Michigan Orders Employers of Critical Infrastructure Workers and Essential Employees to Implement Screening and Social Distancing Measures

Under Michigan’s Stay Home, Stay Safe Executive Order effective March 24, 2020, only essential businesses or operations that employ critical infrastructure workers are allowed to continue in-person operations.1 The Order, which remains in effect until April 13, 2020, also allows non-essential businesses to designate employees as essential if their in-person presence is “strictly necessary” to maintain the value of inventory and equipment, to care for animals, to ensure security, to process transactions, or to help other employees work remotely.

The Los Angeles City Council Passes Supplemental COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave for Large Employers

On March 27, 2020, the City Council passed an ordinance mandating employers with 500 or more employees nationally offer Supplemental Paid Sick Leave for various COVID-19 related reasons described below. The ordinance is awaiting Mayor Eric Garcetti’s review and anticipated approval.

LA Passes COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Law for Large Employers

On March 27, 2020, the LA City Council passed a new paid sick leave ordinance applicable to large employers (those with more than 500 employees nationally that are not covered by the new federal COVID-19 paid leave law, the FFCRA). The ordinance applies to employers with more than 500 employees nationally. Covered employees are those who have worked for the same employer from February 3 to March 4, 2020, and who perform any work in the City of Los Angeles. It applies to full time, part time, and temporary employees. The only employees who are exempted are health care providers (as defined by California Government Code section 12945.2) and first responders, which the ordinance defines to include peace officers, firefighters, paramedics, EMTs, public safety dispatchers or safety telecommunicators, emergency response communication employees, and rescue personnel.

California of Department of Fair Employment and Housing Issues COVID-19 Guidance

As California cases of COVID-19 began to rise in early March, several California administrative agencies released information on COVID-19 employment issues, such as administration of paid sick leave, disability benefits, and unemployment insurance. Yet, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH)—the agency charged with enforcement of California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), which, among other things, prohibits discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in the workplace—remained silent.

California Issues New Guidance on Identifying the "Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce" During the COVID-19 Pandemic Response

As discussed in our prior alert, on March 19, 2020, California’s Governor Gavin Newsom issued a state-wide "stay at home" order ("Executive Order") requiring many, if not most, California residents to remain home. In general, the Executive Order requires individuals to stay home with two exceptions: (1) to obtain food, prescriptions, and healthcare; and (2) to maintain the continuity of operations of certain "critical infrastructure sectors."
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