We previously wrote about the San Diego County face-covering mandate. On April 7, 2020, the City of Los Angeles joined San Diego County and issued an Order that requires certain workers to wear cloth face coverings. Notably, the Order is more expansive than San Diego County’s face-covering mandate because it covers workers in more occupations, applies to customers and visitors of certain businesses, provides face-covering maintenance requirements, and requires certain employers to furnish face coverings and other sanitary products.
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The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law on March 27, 2020 as a federal response to the economic crisis caused by the Coronavirus. As we previously reported, the Act greatly expands unemployment benefits for workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but many questions remained about how the Act would be applied.  The DOL recently issued guidance answering some of these questions.
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The California Public Health Department issued Guidance recommending that all Californians wear cloth face coverings when in public for essential activities.  San Diego County took that guidance one step further, however, and issued an addendum to its public health order, requiring that certain employees wear cloth face coverings.  The San Diego order also requires covered businesses to follow new posting guidelines, and recommends that all San Diegans heed California’s Statewide Face Coverings Guidance.
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In the face of unprecedented challenges due to COVID-19, employers have been forced to balance the need to mitigate current health risks against the need to protect their future financial viability.  Last week, the Los Angeles City Council made navigating that balance more difficult for some employers.
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Employers in California continue to grapple with how to interpret Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order directing all California residents to stay home, except as needed “to maintain the continuity of operations of the federal government critical infrastructure sectors.”  Since the Order came out, the state has issued and updated its list of “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” who are exempted from the stay-at-home restrictions for purposes of reporting to work.
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Yesterday, Governor Newsom issued an Executive Order mandating that all California residents remain at home, except those needed to maintain continuity of operations of the federal critical infrastructure sectors.  The Order is open ended and will continue to be in place until the Governor orders otherwise. What does this mean for California businesses?
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In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus, many employers are grappling with the need to immediately shut down operations.  This raises the question whether employers must pay out all wages (including paid time off) when employees are temporarily laid off or furloughed. In California, they might.
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COVID-19 presents an array of new challenges and an abundance of uncertainty for employers. Notable among them, is the possibility that communities and states will begin to issue mandatory business closures and shelter in place orders. Interpreting and complying with these orders raises a host of issues for employers to consider.

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Employers in the difficult position of making workplace reductions because of COVID-19-related business losses should spare a moment for consideration of layoff notice obligations under the federal Worker Adjustment Retraining Notification Act of 1988, 29 U.S.C. § 2100 et seq. and its state counterparts (so-called “mini-WARN” laws). The “unforeseen business circumstances” exception in federal WARN and most analogous state laws may excuse strict compliance with notification requirements, but employers should take the time now to analyze the applicability of this exception rather than make assumptions about it.
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No doubt recognizing the unprecedented impact on business, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an Executive Order suspending the notice requirements under the California Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. Cal. Lab. Code §§ 1401(a), 1402, 1403. The Executive Order suspends existing law that could have otherwise required employers to provide 60 days’ notice before instituting mass layoffs, relocations, or terminations, and could potentially have imposed steep penalties on employers who failed to do so.  Certain notice obligations remain, however, under the Executive Order.
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