29 Jul

July 2021 California HR Legal Updates

Posted at

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Santa Clara County Phases out Vaccination Tracking

Update Applicable to:
All employers in Santa Clara County, California.

What happened?
On June 21, 2021, The Santa Clara County Health Officer issued a new order that is phasing out the order from May 18, 2021.

What are the details?
Under the new June 21, 2021 Order, the May 18, 2021 Local Health Order is rescinded as long as employers and government entities meet certain requirements.

Employers and government entities are required to have completed two rounds of ascertainment of vaccination status of personnel pursual of the May 18, 2021 Order. Once the two rounds of ascertainment have been completed the May 18, 2021 Order will not have further force of effect with respect to that employer. If an employer has not, or does not, complete two rounds of ascertainment, it may be subject to enforcement under the May 18 Order and may be required to pay fines up to $5,000 per violation per day.

Employers and government entities need to be able to demonstrate that they completed two rounds of ascertainment. This means the employer must maintain appropriate records for so long as the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards remain in force and effect.

The order also includes recommendations to keep the community safe from COVID-19:

  • get vaccinated;
  • continue to emphasize outdoor activities;
  • avoid travel if you’re not fully vaccinated; and
  • continue to regularly test for COVID-19 if you’re not fully vaccinated and, regardless of vaccination status, get immediately tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms.

The Order advises that “With today’s announcement, once an entity has completed its second ascertainment of vaccination status, everyone should continue to follow the State’s rules, but there are no broader local health orders in effect in Santa Clara County.” Under the State’s rules, face coverings are still required—regardless of vaccination status—in healthcare settings; at schools, childcare, and youth settings; on public transit; in jails and correctional facilities; and at homeless and emergency shelters.

The Order can be read here.

Articles on the Order can be read here and here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers in Santa Clara County should follow the order and its guidance to stay compliant with County rules. 

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Mask Mandates Enacted for Los Angeles County

Update Applicable to:
All employers in Los Angeles.

What happened?
On July 16, 2021, the Los Angeles department of public health released a new mask mandate order for all persons in Los Angeles.

What are the details?
The Order, effective July 17, 2021, requires all persons, regardless of vaccination status, to wear face masks indoors in all public settings, venues, gatherings, and businesses (e.g., offices, retail, restaurants, theaters, family entertainment centers, meetings, state and local government offices serving the public, among others). Attendees at Mega Events (e.g., concerts, conferences, events where more than 5,000 people attend), must wear face coverings for all indoor events, and outdoor events where 50% of the structure has adjacent impermeable walls, such as concourses and concession stands.

In addition, the Order recommends the use of either double masking or N95 respirators in all public and private indoor settings, as well as crowded outdoor settings where there is close contact with unvaccinated persons or those who are not yet fully vaccinated. 

All employers should require all employees, regardless of their vaccination status, to wear face masks while working indoors, except in the following situations:

  • In workplaces where employees may be exempt from wearing a face mask when performing specific tasks that cannot feasibly be performed while wearing a mask. This exception is limited to the period in which the task is actually being performed. Such employees must be tested for COVID-19 twice a week unless the employer is provided with the employee’s proof of COVID-19 vaccination or proof of recovery from a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 test within the past 90 days.   
  • Anyone instructed not to wear a face mask by their health care provider. In these cases, employers should allow employees to seek accommodation.  

The Order will remain in effect until further notice by the Health Officer.

The order can be read here.

Articles on the order can be read here and here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the order as well as update their current health and safety policies to continue to stay in compliance.

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California Supreme Court Confirms Rates for Missed Meals and Breaks 

Update Applicable to:
All employers in California. 

What happened?
On July 16, 2021, the California Supreme Court ruled on the Ferra v. Loews Hollywood Hotel, LLC case, bringing a new standard for missed meal compensation rates. 

What are the details?
The California Supreme Court has ruled that when an employer fails to provide a legally compliant meal period or rest break and the employer is paying an employee one additional hour of pay at the employee’s “regular rate of compensation”, the rate must be the employee’s “regular rate of pay”.  

The regular rate of pay, for purposes of overtime, should be at one-and-a-half times an employee’s regular rate of pay or twice that rate for double time. If an employee receives hourly pay plus incentives (such as non-discretionary bonuses), then the regular rate factors in the incentive pay to come up with an average hourly rate of pay which is higher than the base hourly rate. Similarly, if an employee receives multiple different hourly rates of pay with no additional incentives, the regular rate for overtime purposes will be the weighted hourly rate derived from all the different hourly rates for particular workweeks within the pay period. 

The Court did determine that their decision does apply retroactively but would not revive claims barred by the applicable statutes of limitation.  

 An article on the ruling can be read here

The court document can be read here.  

 What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the information above and the court documents to continue to remain in compliance with their meal, rest, and recovery period policies. The law firm, Fisher Phillips, suggests taking three steps into consideration; vigilantly comply with meal and break rules; use the correct formula – but take steps to prevent repeat problems, and determine what to do about problems in your past.  
 
More information on their suggested steps can be read here.  

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The City of Pasadena Requires Face Coverings Regardless of Vaccination Status

Update Applicable to:
All employers in Pasadena, California.

What happened?
On July 12, 2021, the City of Pasadena health office issued the “Order for Wearing of Face Masks in Public Settings”.

What are the details?
Effective July 22, 2021, the Order requires all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, to wear face coverings in all indoor public settings, venues, gatherings, and businesses. The locations listed in which all individuals must wear face coverings include offices, retail, restaurants and bars, theaters, family entertainment centers, conference centers, and state and local government offices serving the public.

To comply with the order, businesses must take the following steps:

  • Require all employees to wear face coverings, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Require all patrons to wear face coverings, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Make face masks available to patrons.
  • Post clearly visible and easy-to-read signage at all entry points for indoor and outdoor settings to communicate the masking requirements to all patrons.
  • Test for COVID-19 at least twice per week all employees who cannot feasibly wear a mask while performing their work.

The order specifically exempts the following employees from the face covering mandate: 

  • Persons who are working alone in a closed office or room
  • Persons who are actively eating and/or drinking
  • Employees performing specific tasks which cannot feasibly be performed while wearing a mask. This exception is limited to the period of time in which such tasks are actually being performed.

The order will stay in effect until the health officer rescinds the Order in writing.

The Order can be read here.

An article on the Order can be read here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers should read the information and the Order to make required changes and ensure compliance with business operations and employee safety.

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