Sunday, November 27, 2022

Key Considerations for Employers Returning Their Employees to the Workplace

Many employers in California are in the process of returning their employees to the workplace on either a full-time or part-time basis. For some employers this is the first time they have returned employees to a physical office or job site in over a year-and-a-half.

As expected, employers are concerned primarily with the health and safety of the workforce, especially as it pertains to adhering to the Cal/OSHA workplace safety rules and any additional rules enforced by local public health officers. However, there are several other considerations for employers to keep in mind as they return employees to the workplace and begin to return to more normalized operations.

Are Your Posters Up to Date?

Throughout the pandemic the definition of a “worksite” has changed dramatically for many employers. This definition is important for an employer’s obligation to maintain up-to-date posters and notices because the variety of laws that mandate the workplace posters and notices requires that they be posted in a conspicuous area in the workplace where the employee will tend to see them.

Employers should keep in mind that a “worksite” also includes an employee’s home if they are working remotely, and although SB 657 (passed this year and taking effect on January 1, 2022) permits providing notices electronically to telecommuting employees, it does not change the requirement for a physical posting.

In California, employers are required to post more than a dozen posters from varied agencies, such the U.S. Department of Labor, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, and the California Department of Industrial Relations. Further, many of these posters, such as minimum wage notices, anti-discrimination posters, and leave rights posters, are updated annually.

So, employers who have been away from the physical workplace or who have been understandably preoccupied with health and safety measures should review their workplace postings to ensure they have the most up-to-date postings at their workplace. Employers who need assistance with this should look to a trusted resource that can provide everything the employer needs for compliance.

Update Your Employee Handbooks

Beyond preparing the workplace for employees to return by updating required postings, many employers have changed many of the policies that govern the workplace. For example, employers that used to deny any remote work arrangement are now allowing either full or partial remote work arrangements. Moving into this “hybrid” work environment, employers are best off creating written policies for which departments or units may take advantage of and the rules pertaining to remote work.

Remote work comes with several other policy considerations, such as employer property and data protection, appropriate timekeeping for nonexempt employees, and how employees should remit expense reimbursements for any personal expenses associated with their job duties.

In addition, the California Legislature did not stop its work during the pandemic, creating several new laws that may have affected employee handbooks that also need to be revised. These new laws include the expansion of the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) leave law to cover all employers with five or more employees, and other changes to laws over the last couple of years, such as bone and organ donor leave and crime victims’ leave.

With so many different rules to establish, employers are strongly encouraged to seek out a trusted resource to update their employee handbook to set the guidelines for this new age of “hybrid” and remote work as well as update for the new laws that have been passed throughout the pandemic.

Harassment Prevention Training Still Required

Lastly, most laws and deadlines were not suspended throughout the pandemic. This includes California’s mandated harassment prevention training requirement. Current employees must undergo this training every two years, and newly hired and employees newly promoted to a supervisory position must participate in the appropriate training within six months of hire or promotion.

With remote and hybrid work making in-person training difficult, if not impossible, employers are encouraged to seek out compliant, computer-based training that meets the requirements of the law and still provides engaging content.

The California Chamber of Commerce offers a suite of products that can help employers prepare their worksites and get into compliance with state law.

Two of the most popular products include the CalChamber’s all-in-one 2022 California and Federal Labor Law Poster, which contains the 18 state and federal employment notices every California employer must post; and the online California Harassment Prevention Training. The harassment prevention training program exceeds California’s legal requirements and includes best practices that raise awareness about the subtleties of harassment, improve workplace culture and respect, and increase productivity and a sense of well-being.

For more information on these products, visit store.calchamber.com.

Staff Contact: Matthew Roberts

Matthew Roberts
Matthew Roberts
Matthew J. Roberts joined the CalChamber in July 2019 as an employment law counsel/subject matter expert. He explains California and federal labor and employment laws to CalChamber members and customers, and was named in October 2021 to serve as manager of the Labor Law Helpline. He came to the CalChamber from the Shaw Law Group, P.C. of Sacramento, where he was a senior attorney, authored articles on emerging issues in employment law, and represented employers before state/federal employment law agencies. He received a B.A. in government from California State University, Sacramento and holds a J.D. from McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific, where he also served on the McGeorge Law Review as both a writer and primary managing editor. See full bio

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