Update Applicable to:

All employers in the state of California.

What happened?

On September 29,2022, California’s Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 1044 (SB 1044), which prohibits an employer in the event of an emergency condition from taking or threatening adverse action against any employee for refusing to report to, or leave a workplace or worksite within the affected areas because the employee has a reasonable belief that the workplace or worksite is unsafe.

What are the details?

Effective January 1, 2023, SB 1044 makes it unlawful for employers to take or threaten adverse action against an employee for refusing to report to or leave a workplace due to a reasonable belief that the workplace is unsafe due to a “emergency condition.”

SB 1044 also prohibits an employer from preventing any employee, including employees of public entities from accessing the employee’s mobile device or other communications device for seeking emergency assistance, assessing the safety of the situation, or communicating with a person to confirm their safety.

SB 1044 requires an employee to notify the employer of the emergency condition requiring the employee to leave or refuse to report to the workplace or worksite. The bill clarifies that these provisions are not intended to apply when emergency conditions that pose an imminent and ongoing risk of harm to the workplace, the worksite, the worker, or the worker’s home have ceased.

Definition of Emergency Condition

An emergency condition is defined as either of the following:

The bill specifies that an emergency condition does not include a health pandemic.

Definition of a Reasonable Belief

A reasonable belief that the workplace or worksite is unsafe means that a reasonable person, under the circumstances known to the employee at the time, would conclude there is a real danger of death or serious injury if that person enters or remains on the premises. The existence of any health and safety regulations specific to the emergency condition and an employer’s compliance or noncompliance with those regulations shall be a relevant factor if this information is known to the employee at the time of the emergency condition or if the employee received training on the health and safety regulations mandated by law specific to the emergency condition.

SB 1044 does not apply to the following:

For more information, please see the links below:

Senate Bill 1044 (SB 1044)

Article 1Article 2

What do employers need to do?

Employers should review the links provided above, refrain from prohibiting employees from seeking emergency assistance, and do their best to protect their employees from any physical danger.