Certain California Employers Now Required to Rehire Employees Laid Off Due to Pandemic

On Friday April 16, 2021, Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill 93 into law, creating rehire rights for certain Californians laid off due to Covid-19. The bill created California Labor Code section 2810.8 which requires employers in certain industries to notify laid off employees of all open job positions for which those employees are qualified. The employer must give the laid off employee at least five business days to accept the job and the employer must rehire the employee with the highest level of seniority if more than one employee applies for any given position. Employers must notify laid off workers of the new job position in writing, delivered personally or to the employee’s last known physical address, and by email and text message if the employer has that contact information. A laid off employee is qualified for a position if they held the same or similar position at the time they were laid off, and is eligible for protection under this new law if they worked for an employer at least two hours per week and for at least 6 months in 2019. Labor Code section 2810.8 applies to employers that provide janitorial, building maintenance, or security services to office, retail, or other commercial buildings; certain hotels and private clubs; event centers; airport hospitality operations; and airport service providers. It also imposes significant record keeping requirements on employers, including retaining employee contact information, employment status and lay off data, and all communication regarding offers of reemployment for at least three years. Employees can file a complaint with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) for violations of section 2810.8 and may be awarded front and back pay, compensation for benefits, hiring and reinstatement rights, and liquidated damages. An employer who violates section 2810.8 is also subject to civil penalties plus liquidated damages of $500 per employee for each day an employee’s rights were violated.  Labor Code section 2810.8 takes effect immediately. Employers covered by this new law may wish to take immediate measures to ensure compliance including gathering and maintaining adequate records, educating managers about the requirements of section 2810.8, and implementing new hiring processes that ensure laid off employees are properly notified of all open positions as required. If you have questions about the impacts of this new law on you or your business, we will be happy to help you.