As coronavirus cases drop and economic activity starts to return to normal, the hospitality industry will soon be able to begin replacing workers who were laid off due to the pandemic. Some cities in California, and now the entire state, have enacted requirements for how hotels and other businesses can fill open positions; my partner, Travis Gemoets, has summarized the new law below.

California hospitality workers laid off during COVID-19 pandemic get rehire rights

by

Travis M. Gemoets, Partner & Senior Member of

JMBM's Global Hospitality Group®

On Friday, April 16, 2021, Gov. Gavin Newsom put new employer obligations into law by signing Senate Bill 93, requiring hotel, event center, airport hospitality and janitorial employers to first rehire workers laid off during the pandemic when jobs become available, essentially establishing “recall rights” more commonly associated with union collective bargaining agreements. Senate Bill 93 takes effect immediately after quickly making its way through the Legislature as a budget trailer bill and will be in effect until the end of 2024. Gov. Newsom vetoed a more expansive labor-backed bill last year.

SB 93 requires employers in hospitality and business services industries to offer new positions for similar work to employees laid off during the pandemic within five days of creating a position. To be eligible for these newly-established recall rights, the employee must have been employed for more than six months in 2019, and must have been laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Employees in this group who were fired for disciplinary reasons are not eligible.

In cases in which more than one laid off employee qualifies for a position, the employer is required to offer it to the worker with the longest tenure. Prior to the enactment of SB 93, several California cities had enacted their own recall rights laws, including Santa Monica, Los Angeles (city and county), Pasadena, Glendale and Long Beach.

How JMBM helps clients with COVID-related questions

During the COVID pandemic, the JMBM Labor & Employment Department has provided timely and up-to-date advice to our clients on such critical subject matters as furlough and lay-off strategies, applying paid leave laws, negotiating with unions on lay-off issues and contract modifications, COVID-related safety protocols for employees returning to the workforce, wage and hour issues, and strategies to minimize workers' compensation claims.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.