On April 16, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-51-20, (“Executive Order”) which provides COVID-19 related paid sick leave for “food sector workers” who work for larger employers in the state. The California legislature is now considering codifying those leave requirements with Senate Bill 729.

Who is a covered “Employer”? 

As with the food sector leave provided under the Executive Order, the leave would apply to employers with 500 or more employees in the United States. The language of the Senate Bill uses the same definitions of employers as the Executive Order.

Who is a “Food Sector Worker”?

The Senate Bill’s definition of food sector worker mirrors that of the Executive Order and includes the following:

  • Employees engaged in the canning, freezing, and preserving industry, as defined under Wage Order 3-2001, section 2(B).
  • Employees engaged in industries handling products after harvest, as defined under Wage Order 8-2001, section 2(H).
  • Employees engaged in industries preparing agricultural products for the market, on the farm, as defined under Wage Order 13-2001, section 2(H).
  • Employees employed in an agricultural occupation, as defined under Wage Order 14-2001, section 2(D).
  • Employees who work for an employer that operates a food facility, as defined under the California Health and Safety Code section 113789.
  • Employees who deliver food from a food facility, as defined under the California Health and Safety Code section 113789.

The food worker also must qualify as an essential critical infrastructure worker and be exempt from the requirements imposed by any statewide stay-at-home order.  Further, the food worker must leave their home to perform work for or through their employer.

What time off is provided?

Like the Executive Order, the proposed bill requires covered employers to provide full-time employees eighty (80) hours of paid time off and part-time employees a proportionate time off for the following reasons:

  • The food sector worker is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order.
  • The food sector worker is advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine or self-isolate due to concerns related to COVID-19.
  • The food sector worker is prohibited from working by the food sector worker’s hiring entity due to health concerns related to the potential transmission of COVID-19.

Unlike the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) and other recently passed supplemental paid sick leave ordinances in California, neither the leave outlined in the Executive Order nor the Senate Bill provides leave for those caring for a family member who is quarantined or sick, or caring for a minor child whose school or childcare has closed due to COVID-19.

The Senate Bill also amends the California Health and Safety Code to mandate employers to allow food sector workers to wash their hands every 30 minutes or more if needed. This requirement is also outlined in the Executive Order.

The leave set forth in the Executive Order expires when the Governor lifts the stay-at-home orders. Conversely, the proposed legislation would sunset when the state of emergency is lifted for the State.

Jackson Lewis is tracking new rules and regulations related to COVID-19 and the workplace. If you have questions or concerns about complying with California workplace regulations, contact a Jackson Lewis attorney to discuss.