On Friday August 28, 2019 Governor Newsom issued a Blueprint for a Safer Economy which provides a risk-based criteria on tightening and loosening COVID-19 permitted activities. The Blueprint is based on a 4 tier structure setting forth different restrictions for different industries.
Every county in California is assigned to a tier based on its rate of new cases and positivity. At a minimum, counties must remain in a tier for at least 3 weeks before moving forward. Data is reviewed weekly and tiers are updated on Tuesdays. To move forward, a county must meet the next tier’s criteria for two consecutive weeks. If a county’s metrics worsen for two consecutive weeks, it will be assigned a more restrictive tier. Public health officials are constantly monitoring data and can step in if necessary.
Check your county’s tier status to see how businesses and activities can open.
As of August 31, 2020, counties in the Widespread (purple) tier may open some businesses and activities with modifications, including all retail, shopping centers at maximum 25% capacity, and hair salons and barbershops indoors. Local counties can still limit any reopening plans if the county decides to do so.
4 Tier Structure
- Follow the state’s mandates and the 4 tiers to reopening.
- Find the guidance for your industry, business, event, or activity and review it completely: https://covid19.ca.gov/industry-guidance/
Employers Playbook to Reopen Your Business or Facility Safely
California recently issued it Employer Playbook for a Safe Reopening to help plan and prepare for the reopening of businesses. Employers should continue to review the playbook for detailed steps to be taken which includes information on:
- When and how an employer must report a COVID-19 positive employee.
- What is defined as an “outbreak” (3 or more cases within 14 calendar day period of time.)
- Guidance for employers who may be considering whether to suspend operations due to COVID-19 spread in the workplace.
Additional Reopening Protocols
An employer must undertake the following to reopen safely:
- Conduct A Risk Assessment: Perform a detailed risk assessment and create a worksite-specific protection plan
- Train employees: Train employees on how to limit the spread of COVID-19. This includes how to screen themselves for symptoms and when to stay home
- Establish Protocols:
- Set up individual control measures and screenings
- Implement disinfection protocols
- Establish written physical distancing guidelines
- Establish face covering protocols (with allowed exceptions). See CDPH guidelines (PDF). Employers can mandate employees wear a mask or face covering while at work. Employers must provide face coverings to workers or must reimburse workers for the reasonable cost of obtaining them.
- Post your completed checklist: Display your completed checklist so everyone can know the steps you have taken
Additional State Resources
The State has issued guidance on the following topics:
- Government programs supporting COVID-19 sick leave and workers’ compensation.
- Family friendly practices for employers (PDF)
- Support for working families (PDF)
- Find childcare
- CDPH guidance for the use of face coverings (PDF)
Family Friendly Practices for Employers
The State’s Family Friendly Practices for Employers speaks to the numerous obstacles and challenges employers face during the pandemic including recruiting and retaining a well-trained, productive, high quality workforce. As the reopening of the state and businesses progress, employees will require both child care support and workplace flexibility. The State encourages employers to seek to create and implement work-life balance policies. Some of the suggested family-friendly practices are listed below.
- Grant flexible working time arrangements through work from home policies and other measures.
- Support access to affordable and quality child care to ensure that children have access to early learning opportunities and parents are supported to focus on work during work hours, knowing their children are well cared for.
- Survey your employees about their child care needs and offer flexibility where needed through supportive policies.
- Provide employer sponsored child care onsite or contract for spaces at nearly child care centers and family child care homes.
- Offer employees flexible spending accounts, or dependent care assistance plans to pay for child care with pre-tax dollars and/or offer direct assistance with child care costs.
- Provide information to your employees about the California Paid Family Leave program.
- Provide donations, discounts, or in-kind supports to child care programs in the community.
As the guidance issued by the state and federal agencies is regularly changing, as is the medical information known about COVID-19, this memo is provided solely as a reference tool to be used for informational purposes and should not be construed or interpreted as providing legal advice related to any specific case or cases.
This Newsletter is intended as a brief summary of employment law. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained herein, it is not intended to serve as “legal advice,” or to establish an attorney-client relationship. If additional information is needed on any of the topics contained herein, please contact our office. All rights reserved. ©2020.