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New Employer Playbook & Standards for Determining when Employees Can Return to Work

Almond Alliance of the California — Today, Governor Newsom announced that the State has issued a new Employer Playbook for a Safe Reopening, which contains guidance regarding all of the following:

  • Requirements employers must satisfy to provide safe and clean work environments. This guidance expands on the existing industry specific guidance and checklists, the most current versions of which can be viewed using the following link: https://covid19.ca.gov/industry-guidance/

  • What to do if there is a case of COVID-19 in the workplace. Importantly, this section contains the most current guidance to help employers determine when employees should be permitted to return to work after they have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or have been exposed to COVID-19 (pages 13 – 15).  Please note that the CDC’s guidance has changed since the last time our office provided our General Guidance materials.  In addition to reviewing the standards set forth in the Employer Playbook, you should look at the websites of all Counties in which you operate, as the Counties are permitted to issue varying standards.  Employer reporting obligations and employee leave rights (paid and unpaid) are also described in this section.  You should document each employee’s COVID-19 circumstance, your response, the employee’s leave rights and standard you used to allow the employee to return to work. 

  • Worker education topics and enforcement of mask requirements. The guidance summarizes the COVID-19-related issues employees are expected to understand, which establishes the criteria for your training obligations.  Links are provided to assist in your training efforts.  You should also continue to refer to the industry-specific guidance for your operation.  Be sure to keep records of all of your training sessions, including who attended, the topics discussed and all written materials distributed to your employees.The Employer Playbook for a Safe Reopening can be viewed using the following link:  https://files.covid19.ca.gov/pdf/employer-playbook-for-safe-reopening–en.pdf.  The Employer Playbook contains many links to additional websites, which should also be reviewed as applicable to your operation.

    As we have explained in previous emails, although the documents issued by the State are described as “Guidance” you should treat the standards described in the documents as Orders and ensure that your operation and employees strictly comply with all applicable requirements.  The Labor Commissioner’s Office, CalOSHA, ABC and other agencies are conducting enforcement visits to determine whether businesses are complying with the applicable standards and are issuing citations to those who are not.

    In addition to the Employer Playbook, Governor Newsom announced he is working with the Legislature and key stakeholders to expand critical protections for employees, including paid sick leave.  The Governor’s announcement can be viewed using the following link:  https://www.gov.ca.gov/2020/07/24/governor-newsom-announces-new-supports-for-california-workers/.

    Today’s announcements, and the new information contained in the Employer Playbook, is a reminder that the requirements and standards with which employers must comply continue to evolve on a regular basis.  Please be sure to always check the relevant websites for the most current information and contact your counsel anytime you have a question about how to respond to a COVID-19 issue in your operation.

    If you have any questions regarding this industry alert please contact staff@almondalliance.org.

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