Despite the Governor’s recent announcement for a tentative reopening of the state by June, California’s legislature has been busy passing COVID-19-related laws. At the end of March, the Governor signed Senate Bill 95, which resurrected and expanded supplemental paid sick leave. And more recently, the Governor signed Senate Bill 93, which implemented a statewide right of reemployment for certain industries.

Over the last four months, numerous localities (including the City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, Costa Mesa, Irvine, and others) across California have issued or considered “hazard” or “hero” pay ordinances that mandate premium pay for grocery and drug store employees and similar industries. While several lawsuits have been filed seeking to strike down these local ordinances, the state is considering two statutes that would support them.

First, Assembly Bill 889, would require the owner of a grocery store as soon as possible, but not later than 60 days or 180 days before a planned closure of a grocery establishment, to provide written notice of the intended closure to the city and county in which the grocery store is located, the local workforce development board, and the State Department of Social Services, along with other requirements for store closures. While at first blush this ordinance seemingly has little to do with the hero pay ordinances, as support for the bill, the proposed statute explicitly cites to planned grocery closures allegedly done in response to implemented hero pay ordinances.

In addition to the grocery industry, the state legislature is also considering Assembly Bill 650, which would mandate hazard pay retention bonuses for employees in the health care industry. The bonuses would be in addition to all other compensation paid to eligible health care workers. The bill would also make it a violation for a covered employer to discharge, lay off, or reduce a covered health care worker’s compensation or hours to prevent that worker from receiving hazard pay retention bonuses.

Jackson Lewis will continue to track local and state laws pertaining to employers and COVID-19. If you have questions about hazard pay or related issues, contact a Jackson Lewis attorney to discuss.