By Heather Sager, Jill Ripke, and Jessica Millar

On July 24, 2020, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) published its 33-page COVID-19 Employer Playbook for a Safe Reopening. The Playbook “provides guidance for employers to help them plan and prepare for reopening their business and to support a safe, clean environment for workers and customers.” The Playbook does not supplant existing employer obligations or employee rights. In preparing and continuing any reopening plans, employers should pay particular attention to the Playbook’s guidance on managing an outbreak of COVID-19 at the workplace, which includes actions employers should take to prevent further spread of the virus in the event a case has been identified. Finally, the Playbook includes helpful resources, including a summary of relevant regulations and guidance for reporting identified COVID-19 cases, leave requirements for affected employees, and information on enforcement and compliance.

Among other helpful tips, the Playbook states that, before reopening, employers must implement a plan that is specific to their workplace:

Before reopening, all facilities must:

    1. Perform a detailed risk assessment and create a work site-specific COVID-19 prevention plan
    2. Train workers on how to limit the spread of COVID-19. This includes how to screen themselves for symptoms and when to stay home
    3. Set up individual control measures and screenings
    4. Put disinfection protocols in place
    5. Establish physical distancing guidelines
    6. Establish universal face covering requirements (with allowed exceptions) in accordance with CDPH guidelines.

Employers should also review the CDPH and Cal/OSHA industry-specific guidance and checklists designed to meet the needs of distinct industry sectors.

Employers with questions about the Playbook or other issues arising out of the pandemic should consult experienced counsel.