City extends ordinance to protect workers during the pandemic as COVID-19 cases rise

Earlier this year, in response to the pandemic, the City of Sacramento passed an ordinance to protect employees at their jobs, ensure fair employment practices and mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

The ordinance was set to expire Dec. 31. However, the City Council on Tuesday voted to extend this ordinance until March 31, 2021 due to the upswing in COVID-19 cases and positivity rates, said Peter Lemos, the City’s code and housing enforcement chief.

The ordinance, which went into effect July 15, requires employers in the City of Sacramento to comply with specific health and safety protocols. Violations of these protocols can result in penalties, including fines up to $25,000.

“As employees return to and operate in the workplace, it is critical to continue to protect the health and safety of the city’s residents,” Lemos said. “The worker protection ordinance provides the employers with safety practices and protocols, and workers with rights and protections as businesses resume their operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Under the ordinance, employers are required to implement the following cleaning, mitigation and physical distancing protocols and practices:

  • Provide employees access to regular handwashing with soap, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.
  • Conduct daily cleaning and disinfection of high-touch areas in accordance with Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.
  • Establish protocols for action if the site has been exposed to a person who is a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19.
  • Clean common areas (e.g., break room, locker rooms, rest rooms, and conference room) daily and between shifts.
  • Provide face coverings for employees and mandating that those masks are worn while working on-site except when an employee can maintain a physical distance of six feet or is using break time to eat or drink.
  • Establish protocols to ensure proper physical distancing.

An employer cannot discharge, discipline, discriminate against, retaliate against or reduce compensation of any employee exercising their rights under this ordinance.

If an employer is not complying with the measures of the ordinance, employees have the right to make a complaint and can refuse work without pay per the following:

  • Employee believes employer is in violation and provides notice to the employer of the violation.
  • City may investigate validity of the alleged violation. Within 15 days of written notice from the City, employer must cure any confirmed violation.
  • If the City finds the employer was not in violation or employer provides proof of curing violation, employee no longer has right for refusal.

Any employer who receives financial assistance from the City through any COVID-19 relief program is required to certify that the business complies with this ordinance as a condition of receiving funds. The City may demand a refund of the assistance if there is non-compliance.

This ordinance is not intended to impact any employee rights or substitute for existing safety and health regulatory requirements including but not limited to Cal/OSHA, CDC, and/or state or local government orders. It also makes provisions for supplemental paid sick leave for certain employees.

To report violations of this ordinance, please contact the City by calling 311 or 916-264-5011 from cell phones or out-of-area phones. Violations also can be reported by emailing 311@cityofsacramento.org.

Find resources and more information on the City’s COVID-19 relief website. Workers with questions or concerns can also call the Coronavirus Job Protection Helpline 916-905-1625.

For more information, or if you have specific questions, you also can email workersprotection@cityofsacramento.org.

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