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March 2020: California Releases Coronavirus Guidance And More

Emily Hartman /

Every month we break down all of California’s new and upcoming regulatory changes related to Human Resources (HR) and labor topics. This month California released coronavirus guidance in addition to employer security screenings.

California OSHA Releases Coronavirus Guidance for Employers

Who: California employers whose workers may experience a reasonable exposure to the virus, like health care facilities, labs, public health locations

When: Effective Immediately

What:

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) released “Interim Guidance for Protecting Health Care Workers from Exposure to 2019 Novel Coronavirus.”

The guidance outlines what employers are required to do to protect their employees, including:

  • Drafting written Aerosol Transmissible Diseases (ATD) exposure preparation plans and procedures
  • Ensuring employees receive training about the coronavirus, signs, and symptoms, how to prevent it, the proper use of protective equipment, and what to do if an exposure occurs.
  • Using engineering and “work practice controls” to minimize exposure to the virus.
  • The proper use of personal protective equipment
  • Providing employees with medical services that comply with public health guidelines
  • Laboratories that can aerosolize infections pathogens are required to have biosafety plans in place and a biosafety officer. Additionally, laboratory management must ensure employees who are exposed to potential or direct cases comply with all of the ATD standards.

How:

  • Review Cal/OSHA’s guidance recommendations and your current procedures.
  • Develop and implement an awareness campaign using the CDC’s resource that best suits your organization.
  • Consider and develop a plan for addressing a possible outbreak of coronavirus in the United States.

Additional Resources:

Interim Guidance for Protecting Health Care Workers from Exposure to 2019 Novel Coronavirus

Respirator Supplies Efficiency

California Employers Must Pay for Time Spent Onsite at Security Screenings

Who: California employers who screen employees entering work facilities

When: Effective Immediately

What:

The California Supreme Court ruled that employees must be compensated for their time spent waiting to go through their employer’s security checks. The ruling states that employers should compensate affected employees as “hours worked.”

The court provided a multi-factor test for employers to use when deciding if employees have the choice to undergo the screening. Employees’ time should be compensated depending on:

  • If the screening is mandatory
  • The location of the screening
  • The level of control the employer has over the screening
  • If the screening primarily benefits the employee or employer
  • If the screening is enforced by disciplinary action

This case involved Apple retail store employees who had to undergo security screenings if they opted to take a bag out of the store. Apple’s policy required the employees to clock out before the screening. Store employees filed a class action against Apple that the time spent waiting and undergoing the screening should be compensated.

How:

  • Identify any unpaid activities your employees might participate in that could be interpreted as a part of their work. Consult with legal counsel regarding whether the activity(s) could be considered compensable.
  • Review and update your current screening policies and update them in accordance with the new requirements.
  • Review and update your time accounting and payroll to ensure structures are in place to ensure additional time and pay can be compensated for.
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