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July 29, 2021

Returning to Work: Implementing a Risk Management Strategy with the Employee in Mind

For many employers, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the landscape of the workplace. While some companies have transitioned to working from home permanently, others have adopted the hybrid business model, where employees are allowed to split their workweek between a traditional office and home office. While employers have discovered many advantages to having hybrid workers, such as increased productivity and better work-life balance, these benefits are offset by increased liability exposure, particularly as it relates to potential work-related injuries and looming  wage and hour considerations. In an article for CEO Today, Senior Employment Counsel Corinne Spencer and Attorney Antwoin Wall discuss ways employers can implement updated safety practices to protect their employees and themselves.

If you are interested in developing a hybrid or remote work employee safety plan and would like to speak to one of our attorneys, contact us here.

Legal Roundup: California Employer Updates

California Supreme Court Decision Significantly Increases Employers’ Potential Liability for Missed Meal and Rest Breaks

On July 15, 2021, the California Supreme Court unequivocally answered the longawaited question in Ferra v. Loews Hollywood Hotel, LLC: Employers are required to pay meal and rest break violation premiums at the same regular rate of pay that they use for paying overtime. The Court’s decision applies retroactively. As a result, California employers can expect a new wave of class action and Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) claims based on this decision, clearly favorable to employees. Learn more here.

L.A. County Employers: Indoor Mask Mandate Returns As COVID Cases Rise

The County of Los Angeles Public Health Department announced it modified its Health Order to require masking for everyone while indoors, regardless of vaccination status, effective Saturday, July 17th. This order is in response to an increase in new cases since the June 15 reopening and concerns surrounding the Delta variant. Employers in Los Angeles County need to review and revise their policies accordingly.

Senate Bill 93 Imposes a Statewide ‘Right of Recall’ as the California Economy Re-opens

All California employers should be aware of the obligations and implications of SB 93 signed into law by Governor Gavin Newson. SB 93, codified as Labor Code Section 2810.8, creates a preference system for reemployment and/or recall efforts as the state moves toward full reopening. Specifically, the bill requires covered employers to make written job offers to covered employees whom they laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic before extending an offer to a new hire. Read more on the bill here.

The Pervasiveness of COVID-19 Limits the Employer’s Duty to Provide a Safe Work Environment to Employees Only

On May 10, 2021, U.S. District Judge Maxine M. Chesney dismissed an amended suit brought by a spouse seeking to hold her husband’s employer liable for her COVID-19 infection. The lawsuit reflects the potential for a shift in litigation that may ensue as employees attempt to place liability for family members contracting COVID-19 on their employers. California employers and their insurance carriers should prepare for these and similar workplace related to COVID-19. Learn more on this case and its impact here.

California Appeals Court Finds No Wage Statement Violation in Combining Non-Overtime and Overtime Hours on Paystubs

A Fourth Appellate District panel ruled that government contractor General Atomics’ wage statements did not violate California labor law because the statements showed the applicable hourly rates in effect and the corresponding number of hours worked at each rate, despite combining non-overtime and overtime hours. The panel added that because the wage statements show both the applicable hourly rates and the total number of hours worked at each, the subject wage statements do not run afoul of California labor law. This outcome, while deemed a “win” for General  Atomics’ and employers alike, highlights the nuanced requirements that must be considered and adhered to in California’s dynamic and complex wage-and-hour system. Learn more here.

The New Rules Governing Payment for Medical-Legal Evaluations

On April 1, 2021, new rules took effect governing medical-legal evaluations, which results in a significant increase in the cost of the evaluations, testimony, sub-rosa reviews, and record review: Title 8, California Code of Regulations §§ 9793, 9794, & 9795. The new rules governing the Medical-Legal Fee Schedule resulted in an increase in the cost of PQME and AME evaluations. In addition, there is a required declaration and attestation which must be completed and included with each evaluation. Learn more on how to comply with the requirements here.

The Trucking Industry Cannot Outdrive the ABC Test

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals voided a prior district court injunction that shielded motor carriers and owner-operators from A.B. 5. As a result, motor carriers are now subject to California’s heightened legal standard for classifying workers as independent contractors.


Click here to learn more.


The Webinar Corner

Register Now: The Hybrid Employee – Minimizing WorkRelated Injuries for Remote Workers

Wednesday, August 18 at 10am PT

As hybrid workplace models are being implemented across California, employers’ risk exposure has increased significantly, and taking precautions to minimize work injuries for remote workers will be critical. In an upcoming webinar, Partner Yvonne Lang, Senior Employment Counsel Corinne Spencer, Attorney Antwoin Wall and Partner Ani Baghadssarian share best practices to minimize work injuries for remote employees, how to respond if an injury occurs, tools to deal with the continuing hybrid models, and more. Register now.

In Case You Missed It

Supplemental Paid Sick Leave: What You Need to Know, presented by Senior Employment Counsel Corinne Spencer, Partner Yvonne Lang and Attorney Antwoin Wall. Listen to the webinar (Password: iR4BPRHw).

The First Comprehensive COVID-19 Case Law Update, covered the tsunami of case law that affects procedural issues related to remote hearings before WCAB, temporary disability, workers’ compensation exclusion remedy and telehealth medical evaluations. Contact your relationship partner at (818) 501-4343 or email Yvonne Lang directly at yl@4pbw.com, if interested in Continuing Education.

PB&W Gives Back

Ending Homelessness: Mercy House at the Living With Heart 2021 Gala

Mercy House’s Living With Heart 2021 Gala in California raised money to end homelessness, with a live and silent auction. PB&W staff attended the Gala in support of the fundraiser and is proud of its longstanding relationship with Mercy House.


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