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CA Law Requires Employers To Rehire Workers Displaced by COVID-19

On April 16, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation (SB 93) requiring covered employers to offer jobs to the workers that were laid off because of COVID-19 for positions that:

  • Became available after April 16, 2021; and
  • They are qualified to perform.

The law does not apply to all California employers. Covered employers may include hotels, private clubs, event centers, airport hospitality operations, and airport service providers, while also applying specifically to janitorial, building maintenance and security services provided to office, retail and other commercial buildings.

An employee is qualified for a position if they held the same or similar position at the enterprise when they were most recently laid off and:

  • Were employed for six or more months, in the 12 months preceding January 1, 2020, for the enterprise; and
  • Whose most recent separation was because of the COVID-19 pandemic, including a public health directive, government shutdown order, lack of business, a reduction in force, or other economic, non-disciplinary reason caused by the pandemic.

Employers must make the re-employment offer within five business days of a position becoming available. It must be in writing, delivered by hand or to the worker’s last known physical address, and sent by email and text message (if the employer has this information). Employers must offer positions to laid-off employees in preferential order, subject to them being qualified for the job. If more than one employee is entitled to this preference, the job must be offered to the laid-off employee who has worked for the employer the longest. Employees must be given at least five business days, from when they received the offer, to accept or decline it. Employers may make simultaneous, conditional employment offers, with their final offer conditioned on their preference system.

The law also has anti-retaliation provisions, recordkeeping requirements, notice requirements, enforcement provisions, and detailed circumstances that require employers to offer re-employment when ownership changed, the organization changed, the enterprise relocates, and assets are acquired but the business is the same.

The law took effect on April 16, 2021 and will remain in effect until December 31, 2024, when it is repealed.

HR Works, headquartered in Upstate New York, is a human resource management outsourcing and consulting firm serving clients throughout the United States for over thirty years. HR Works provides scalable strategic human resource management and consulting services, including: affirmative action programs; benefits administration outsourcing; HRIS self-service technology; full-time, part-time and interim on-site HR managers; HR audits; legally reviewed employee handbooks and supervisor manuals; talent management and recruiting services; and training of managers and HR professionals.