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SB 93 helps California workers who were laid off during the pandemic

Senate Bill 93 makes individuals eligible to be rehired and has a set of guidelines to follow the process.

By Megan Reyes, Staff Writer

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 93 into law on April 16, establishing a statewide right of recall for employees laid off due to reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The law impacts a significant number of California employers in the hospitality and business services industries and will be in effect through 2024. In order for employees to qualify, they must have been employed for more than six months in the year preceding Jan. 1, 2020, and have been laid-off for non-disciplinary actions related to the pandemic. Reasons include a public health directive, government shutdown order and a lack of business.

Employers must follow the guidelines and timeline for employees to return to work. Specifically, they must inform laid-off employees about job positions that become available for which former employees are qualified and offer positions to those laid-off. The system is based on a preference system and if more than one employee is entitled to a position, the employer must offer the job to the employee with higher seniority.

“As we progress toward fully reopening our economy, it is important we maintain our focus on equity,” said Newson in a statement. “SB 93 keeps us moving in the right direction by assuring hospitality and other workers displaced by the pandemic are prioritized to return to their workplace.”

Information about the positions must be made in writing by employers within five days of establishing a new opening. Employers can notify former recipients either by hand or one can be sent to the employee’s last known address — in addition to a text and email — if the employer possesses such information. The former employee must be given at least five business days from the date of receipt to respond to the offer. If accepted, the employer must welcome the worker back to the job as soon as possible. If an employer chooses not to bring back previous employees due to lack of qualifications, they must provide a written notice explaining the reasons for the decision within 30 days.

“This is the biggest win for workers during the pandemic,” said Kurt Petersen, co-president of international labor union Unite Here Local 11, in a Los Angeles Times article. “This is a lifeline to workers who have been out of work a long time. This gives them a guaranteed right to go back. That’s something they didn’t have yesterday.”

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