Dunn DeSantis Walt & Kendrick continues to monitor developments involving the spread of COVID-19.
This is the first of a series of updates for San Diego County businesses regarding workplace obligations and business continuity guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
County of San Diego Orders affecting San Diego employers and businesses
On Monday, March 16, 2020, because of the COVID-19 threat, the San Diego County Public Health Officer issued amended orders for employers and businesses in San Diego County. At this time, the orders are effective through March 31, 2020.
County Order #4 has the most widespread impact on employer obligations:
“All businesses shall enact social distancing, increased sanitation standards, and shall make every effort to use telecommuting for its workforce. All businesses shall suspend any policy or procedure requiring doctor verification for sick or other leave approval.”
What this Order means for your workplace:
- A telecommuting/remote work policy should be issued to and signed/acknowledged by all eligible employees as soon as possible. Please contact us about what to include in that policy.
- If remote work is made available to employees, they must be provided with all necessary equipment and supplies to work from home or employers must provide expense reimbursement for such equipment.
- If remote work cannot be offered, there are other options to maintain social distancing in your workplace, including staggered schedules. Staggered schedules minimize the level of physical interaction with other employees in your workplace, which may reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. Depending on the needs of your employees (childcare, etc.) this may or not be a workable option, but it is one you can offer to employees who may be interested in coming in earlier or later than usual.
- Flexible sick leave policies that do not require a doctor’s note must be in place to avoid further strain on our healthcare system and to reduce virus transmission.
We can help with other employment-related considerations:
- Implementing a lawful remote work policy tailored to your workforce’s specific needs;
- Guidance on employee sick leave issues;
- Wage and hour issues affecting exempt and nonexempt employees;
- Travel policies;
- Workplace safety recommendations and guidance;
- Options for reducing labor costs during this time, including temporary closures, reductions in hours, furloughs, voluntary unpaid leaves of absence, and layoffs;
- Analysis of existing and forthcoming state and federal programs offering wage replacement options for employees.
Analysis of contractual obligations affected by COVID-19
- The developing situation with the COVID-19 pandemic is interrupting business operations across California and beyond. In such circumstances, a force majeure clause that may well be in contracts to which your business is a party can become important.
- In general, a force majeure clause may allow for one or both of the parties to suspend or avoid the performance required by a contract due to the occurrence of a certain event, or events, beyond the control of either party. Examples would be a natural disaster, labor strike, fire, etc.
- The current social and business disruptions in the U.S. and abroad caused COVID-19 may constitute a force majeure event under the terms of contracts between your business and others.
- We can assist you with questions regarding whether, or how, your performance of a contractual obligation, or the obligations of others to perform services for your business, are affected by COVID-19.
These are uncertain times, and we are here to guide you through an unprecedented and rapidly changing landscape. Our attorneys are on standby to address immediate concerns relating to the COVID-19 pandemic and how it affects California businesses.
If you have any specific questions, please contact us. We’re here for you.