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COVID-19: California Labor Commissioner Offers Guidance on Wage and Hour Issues

Wagner – Wage And Hour(1)

California employers must comply with all applicable state and federal wage and hour regulations. Acknowledging that the current emergency has made things more complicated for everyone, the

California Labor Commissioner’s Office has released COVID-19-related guidance on four key wage and hour issues. Here, our employment law team provides an overview of the key things that California regulators believe you should know.

Coronavirus and Wage and Hour Claims: Four Things Employees Should Know

  1. California Law Offers Workers Paid Sick Leave Protections

Last month, the U.S. Congress passed federal legislation (the FFCRA) mandating guaranteed paid sick leave for employees at certain companies. Though, our state has long offered even stronger paid sick leave protections to workers. The California Labor Commissioner’s Office emphasizes that employees who develop COVID-19 must be allowed to use any paid sick leave available to them under state or federal law. Notably, California’s state paid sick leave law covers time taken for diagnosis, treatment, care, and recovery. Further, California regulators advise employers and employees that self-quarantine recommended by civil health officials—even in absence of a confirmed illness—should still qualify for paid sick leave.

  1. Family Leave May Be Available for School/Daycare Emergencies

Along with nearly three dozen other states, California officials have closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. While a necessary public health measure, school closures create some real challenges for families. The California Labor Commissioner advises employers and employees that workers may be eligible to take job-protected family leave to deal with emergencies related to school closures or daycare closures. Employees who work at companies with 25 employees at one location are permitted up to 40 hours per year to deal with child care provider/school emergencies. A COVID-19-related issue may qualify for family leave.

  1. Reporting Time Pay Requirements May Still Apply

California has one of the strongest reporting time pay requirements in the entire country. Sometimes referred to as the four-hour minimum shift rule, the state mandates that employees must pay a worker for at least half their shift—even if they are sent home early. As described by the California Department of Industrial Relations, failure to comply with reporting time pay regulations may result in sanctions. The California Labor Commissioner’s Office advises that the reporting time pay rules still apply during the emergency, unless the employer is required by civil authorities to halt operations in the middle of the workday. If public officials close a worksite without notice, an employer may be excused from reporting time pay rules.

  1. Employees Must Be Properly Compensated for Overtime Hours

Finally, California employees must be fairly compensated for their overtime hours. While many workers have been furloughed or are dealing with reduced hours, there are certain essential industries that are operating at an increased capacity. Non-exempt employees must be offered overtime pay for all hours worked beyond 40 in a week. For the most part, California follows the overtime pay requirements contained in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Employees who rarely, if ever, work overtime hours may be eligible for overtime pay to account for increased shifts during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Call Our Southern California Wage and Hour Lawyers for Help

At Wagner Zemming Christensen LLP, our California employment attorneys handle the full range of wage and hour complaints. If your workplace rights were violated, we can help. For a completely confidential, no obligation initial consultation, please contact our law firm today. With an office in Riverside, we handle wage and hour claims throughout the region, including in Moreno Valley, San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, Redlands, and Ontario.

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