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California’s Employers Duties During Emergency Conditions

25 Feb

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We wanted to remind employers that on February 4, 2024, Governor Newsom declared a State of Emergency in California (Press Release), triggering some special obligations.

Some of these obligations are:

  • The time an hourly/nonexempt employee is waiting to work must be paid.
  • If the workplace cannot open due to such an event, California’s reporting time pay requirements kick in (i.e., if you send an employee home before they have worked at least half their shift, you may be required to pay them for half of their expected shift).
  • General rule for exempt employees: if an exempt employee does any work in a workweek, they get paid for the week, but if an act of God occurs, and the employee is ready and willing to work, but is unable to, the best practice is to pay the employee. 
  • Special leaves must be granted, but not paid (i.e., volunteer civil service or firefighter or school emergency leave or child leave for parents – or guardians).
  • No retaliation can be taken if the employee refuses to work or leaves due to a reasonable belief that work is unsafe due to an emergency. (Some employees must work during emergency conditions: see the exceptions)
  • You must allow the employee to use their communication device to obtain emergency assistance.
  • You must note on the Wage Theft Notice, the existence of a federal or state emergency.
  • You have a longer amount of time to file certain items (like payroll taxes), with the Employment Development Department (EDD).
  • The 1-week waiting period for Unemployment Insurance Benefits is waived during a state of emergency.

For additional information, listen to the Podcast on Compliance During Emergency Conditions here.

Need help understanding how changes to employment laws will affect your business?

Learn more about how Vensure's California PEO services can help you navigate complex employment laws and keep your business compliant.


This communication is intended solely for the purpose of conveying information. The present post might incorporate hyperlinks directing readers to websites managed by third-party entities. The inclusion of any links within this communication is meant to serve as points of reference and could encompass opinion articles from various law firms, articles from HR associations, official websites, news releases, and documents of government agencies, and other relevant third-party sources. Vensure has no authority over these external websites and bears no responsibility for their content. Furthermore, Vensure does not endorse the materials present on these websites. The contents of this communication should not be interpreted as legal advice or as a legal standpoint concerning specific facts or scenarios. Nor should it be deemed an exhaustive compilation of facts potentially pertinent to federal, state, or local laws. It is strongly advised that employers solicit legal guidance from an employment attorney when undertaking actions in response to any legal updates provided. This is due to the possibility of future alterations occurring in federal, state, and local laws, regulations, as well as the directives and guidelines issued by governing agencies. These changes may transpire at any given time, potentially rendering certain portions of the content within this update void or inaccurate.

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