California Publishes Handbook for Employers to Reopen Safely

On July 24, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom announced the state would be implementing additional worker safeguards to ensure safety while reopening the California economy. The enhanced safeguards focus on preventative measures and employer education, which are covered in the 33-page, newly released “COVID-19 Employer Playbook for a Safe Reopening.”

Intended to be a simple, digestible resource, the playbook covers guidance for safe and clean environments, best practices for an outbreak, information on proactive education efforts to help businesses comply, testing information for employees, and procedures for handling a positive COVID-19 case in the workplace. This playbook builds on top of the previously outline California Resilience Roadmap that provided stages of reopening sectors of the economy after the statewide stay-at-home order.

The four stages of the reopening offer residents and businesses the tools for navigating the requirements to maintain a position in the current stage and move into the next. Within Stage 2, retail, related logistics and manufacturing, office workplaces, limited personal services, outdoor museums, childcare, and businesses can open with modifications based on the readiness of their county. The state had largely moved into Stage 3 by the time we experienced an uptick in cases and deaths in many counties throughout the state.

The playbook specifies that all employers must implement (and update as necessary) a plan that:

  • Is specific to your workplace
  • Identifies all areas and job tasks with potential exposures to COVID-19
  • Includes control measures to eliminate or reduce such exposures
  • Maintains healthy business operations
  • Maintains a healthy work environment
  • Provides effective training for workers
  • Encourages workers to give input into an effective workplace plan

The playbook notes its purpose is to guide employers to help them plan and prepare for reopening their business and to support a safe, clean environment for workers and customers. The information contained in this playbook is especially important considering the likelihood that a workers’ compensation COVID presumption bill will probably pass the Legislature in August 2020 and be signed into law by the Governor.