California governor signs bill pressuring some businesses to rehire workers

Gov.Gavin Newsom

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

A bill signed into law Friday by California Gov. Gavin Newsom will require some businesses, particularly in the hospitality sector, to attempt to rehire workers who lost their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic.

SB 93 requires certain employers to provide laid-off employees specified information about positions that become available for which the workers are qualified. The employers must then offer the jobs to laid-off workers based on a preference system. The job offers must come within five business days of positions opening up. 

Rehiring rules outlined in SB 93 apply to hotels, airport hospitality operations and airport service providers, event centers, private clubs and firms that provide “building services to office, retail or other commercial buildings.”

A laid-off worker counts as qualified for a job if the individual previously held the same or similar position with the company at the time of the employee’s layoff. The laid-off workers must have been employed by the company for six months or more in 2019 and have lost work because of reasons related to the pandemic in order for the job offer mandate to apply.

Businesses that violate the rules can face civil penalties of $100 for each impacted employee, as well as compensatory damages of $500 per employee per day. The damages would be collected by California’s labor commissioner and paid to the laid-off workers.

Last September, Newsom vetoed a similar bill, AB 3216, that would have required the same types of businesses to offer jobs to laid-off employees as positions open up. SB 93 progressed through the state Legislature in an expedited manner because of its status as a budget trailer bill.

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