Governor Issues Order to Help Meet Deliveries, Suspends Some Layoff Notice Requirements

Governor Gavin Newsom yesterday signed an executive order to ease restrictions on commercial drivers supporting emergency relief efforts, and suspend certain existing laws for employers directly affected by COVID-19.

The order aims to address dwindling supplies of essential medical and sanitary items, and sudden changes in workforce needs that are affecting businesses across all industries.

Labor Laws

The Sacramento Bee reports that a quarter of California counties have issued mandatory shelter-in-place orders, asking residents to stay at home and run only essential errands, like trips to the grocery store or pharmacy.

Employers throughout the state have had to close rapidly without providing their workers the advance notice required under California law, either in response to local directives or in an effort to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. In response, yesterday’s executive order suspends, starting March 4, 2020, Labor Code Sections 1402(a), 1402, and 1403 for an employer that orders a mass layoff, relocation or termination at a covered establishment on the condition that the employer:

  • Gives the written notices specified in Labor Code Section 1402(a)–(b);
  • Gives as much notice as is practicable, and, at the time notice is given, provides a brief statement of the basis for reducing the notification period;
  • Orders such a mass layoff, relocation, or termination that is caused by COVID-19-related “business circumstances that were not reasonably foreseeable as of the time that notice would have been required;” and
  • For written notice given after the date of the executive order, in addition to the other elements detailed in Labor Code Section 1401(b), such written notice must contain the following statement: “If you have lost your job or been laid off temporarily, you may be eligible for Unemployment Insurance (UI). More information on UI and other resources available for workers is available at labor.ca.gov/coronavirus2019.”

The Labor and Workforce Development Agency is expected to provide further guidance in the coming days.

For more information on this aspect of the executive order, read “California WARN Act Suspended For COVID-19 Emergency” on the HRWatchdog blog.

Commercial Drivers

In conjunction with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s emergency waiver announced last week to ensure the free flow of critical supplies and equipment, yesterday’s executive order exempts interstate motor carriers that have an active U.S. Department of Transportation number and interstate operating authority from the requirement to hold an active Motor Carrier Property Permit pursuant to California Vehicle Code section 34620, while conducting intrastate transportation within California in support of emergency relief efforts.

In addition, drivers may be permitted or required to exceed the hours-of-service limits (California Vehicle Code Section 34501.2; California Code of Regulations, Title 14, Section 1212.5) while operating a vehicle engaged in interstate or intrastate transportation, in support of emergency relief efforts.

This includes, but is not limited to, transportation to meet immediate needs for:

  • Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19;
  • Supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation, and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19, such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants;
  • Food for emergency restocking of stores; equipment, supplies and persons necessary to establish and manage temporary housing, quarantine, and isolation facilities related to COVID-19;
  • Persons designated by federal, state or local authorities for medical, isolation or quarantine purposes; and
  • Persons necessary to provide other medical or emergency services, the supply of which may be affected by the COVID-19 response.

The Governor’s full executive order can be found here.