Don’t feel safe? California bill would allow employees to leave work or not report without notice – Jobs and HR


United States: Don’t feel safe? California bill would allow employees to leave work or fail to show up without notice

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California experiences states of emergency all the time due to a wide variety of events, such as wildfires, earthquakes, pandemics, and drought conditions. In many cases, it is not clear when these emergencies end and it can be difficult to get the courts to force the Governor to rescind a declaration of emergency. See when will California’s state of emergency end?

The California legislature is currently considering a bill that would prohibit employers from taking or threatening to take adverse action against any employee for refusing to report to or leave a workplace in the affected area because the employee ” feels in danger” in a state of emergency or “emergency condition”. The bill would define an “emergency” as: (i) An event that presents a serious danger to the structure of a workplace or to the immediate health and safety of a worker; or (ii) An order to evacuate a workplace, a worker’s home or a worker’s child’s school.

In particular, the bill imposes no obligation on the employee to notify his employer. This lack of notice may actually exacerbate the risks to others, as employers may not be able to safely shut down or scale back operations. A nursing home, for example, may suddenly find itself without staff to care for patients. The bill also does not impose an objective standard, such as “reasonable belief”. All it takes is for the employee to “feel unsafe”. More importantly, the bill contains no exceptions for first responders or other people who may be essential to respond to an emergency. Finally, the bill appears to assume that the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (aka Cal/OSHA) is not doing its job when it comes to workplace safety.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.

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