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Health officials in six Bay Area counties – Sonoma, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Alameda, and Contra Costa – have issued orders mandating the use of face coverings in public areas like essential businesses, common spaces, and on public transit. The San Francisco, Alameda, San Mateo, and Sonoma county orders went into effect on April 17; however, enforcement of the San Francisco, Alameda, and San Mateo county orders will not begin until 8 a.m. on April 22, 2020.  The Contra Costa and Marin county orders went into effect at 8 a.m. on April 20, 2020.

Acceptable face coverings

Under these orders, individuals should not purchase N95 or other factory-made masks in order to meet the requirements.  Those masks should be reserved for health care workers.  Instead, individuals should use any cloth, fabric, or other soft or permeable material, without holes, that covers only the nose and mouth and surrounding areas of the lower face – even if homemade.    Examples of acceptable face coverings include a scarf or bandanna; a neck gaiter; a homemade covering made from a t-shirt, sweatshirt, or towel, held on with rubber bands or otherwise; or a mask, which need not be medical-grade.
Continue Reading Bay Area counties mandate face coverings for essential businesses and other public areas

On April 16, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order requiring employers to provide up to 80 hours of COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave for food sector workers.  The executive order is effective immediately and extends paid sick leave requirements to cover not only employees, but also independent contractors working in the food sector.

Covered employers

The executive order applies to “hiring entities,” defined as private companies that have 500 or more employees in the United States.  It specifically includes any “Delivery Network Company” (a business entity that maintains an internet website or mobile application used to facilitate delivery services for the sale of local products) and “Transportation Network Company” (an organization operating in California that provides prearranged transportation services for compensation using an online-enabled application or platform to connect passengers with drivers using a personal vehicle).
Continue Reading California requires expanded COVID-19 paid sick leave for food sector workers

The employment-related provisions of H.R. 6201, also known as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the Act) apply only to employers with fewer than 500 employees. However, determining whether a business entity – or a group of separate but related entities – has 500 or more employees is not as straightforward as it may seem. At the same time, the decisions employer make now about how they count employees may have serious collateral consequences later. As a result, employers should approach their Act assessment with added care.
Continue Reading Getting to 500 – employer considerations for meeting the head count exemption threshold in H.R. 6201

In addition to considerations under federal law and California’s wage and hour laws, California employers should consider privacy, harassment and discrimination laws that are unique to California. California laws tend to be more protective of employees than federal counterparts and these differences may impact how an employer needs to respond to coronavirus concerns.


Unlike federal law and most states, California’s state constitution contains an express right to privacy that is generally understood to encompass actions by private individuals and entities which violate a privacy right. California courts, in turn, have held that this right to privacy extends to an individual’s medical information. Not only would an employee’s right to privacy be one reason employers should carefully consider and consult legal counsel before requiring a medical examination to test for COVID-19 (as further discussed below), but in the event an employer receives any information about an employee’s medical condition – like a positive diagnosis of COVID-19 – the employer must take care to keep such medical information confidential and separate from the employee’s personnel file, as required under federal and California law.

California’s right to privacy, however, does not prohibit employers from asking employees if they are planning travel or have traveled to areas with a high risk of exposure to the coronavirus. Further, employers do not violate an employee’s privacy interest if the employee voluntarily discloses medical information to the employer without any solicitation.

Continue Reading California privacy, harassment and discrimination considerations during the coronavirus outbreak

In addition to considerations under federal law, employers with employees in California should consider additional wage and hour issues that are unique to California. The Labor Commissioner’s Office has issued an FAQ to provide guidance on issues related to COVID-19.

If an exempt salaried employee performs any work during the week, that employee should be paid their salaried wage for the entire week. An employer’s obligations for non-exempt employees, however, are more specific. While generally, employers are not required to pay non-exempt employees for hours not worked, there are certain circumstances under California law when employers may have to pay non-exempt employees even for time not worked.

Continue Reading California wage and hour considerations during the coronavirus outbreak