New Senate Bill Could Allow California Employees to Miss Work in Emergencies

At Romero Law, our skilled Pasadena employment law attorneys keep a sharp eye on changes to both new and amended California legislation, so we can help protect employees’ rights throughout the state.

Earlier this month, we explored the status of California Assembly Bill 2188, addressing discrimination in employment regarding the use of cannabis.

The next important piece of legislation is, California Senate Bill 1044.

What is California Senate Bill 1044?

Senate Bill 1044 would allow employees to leave work or refuse to report to work if they reasonably believe the worksite is unsafe during an “emergency condition.”

The bill would:

  • Allow employees to evacuate a worksite, home, or school of an employee’s child during an emergency.
  • Make it unlawful for an employer to bar the employee from using their cellphone or another device to let someone know they are safe.
  • Allow employees to call for emergency assistance or to assess the safety of the situation.

There is also a retaliation component to the bill that makes it unlawful for an employer to take or threaten adverse action against an employee for refusing to report to or for leaving a worksite during an emergency condition if he or she reasonably believes the work location is unsafe.

What is Considered an “Emergency Condition” Under SB 1044

Under SB 1044, “emergency conditions” are circumstances where “natural forces or a criminal act” create conditions of “extreme peril to the safety of persons or property.”

Pandemics are not emergency conditions under the bill. Moreover, first responders, healthcare facility employees, and employees in other specified roles are excluded from this portion of the bill.

What are the Violation Penalties for SB 1044?

The bill would enact new the California Labor Code section 1139.

Violations would give rise to penalties under the state Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA), among other consequences.

As of August 26, 2022, the bill is with Governor Newsom for review. This article will be updated after the Governor reviews the bill.

Contact Our Skilled Employment Law Attorneys in Pasadena, California Today

If you have questions about California employment legislation, and how it impacts legalities in the workplace, contact our experienced Los Angeles County employment law attorneys to discuss your unique circumstances today.

Our employment law firm and bilingual staff offer services in both English and Spanish and are available now to discuss your case during a free consultation by calling 626-396-9900 or contacting us online.

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