Updates to California’s COVID-19 Safe Reopening Playbook + New FAQS

Updates to California’s COVID-19 Safe Reopening Playbook + New FAQS

Since our original post, the State of California has released a revised version of the COVID-19 employer playbook, which is now called the “COVID-19 Employer Playbook: Supporting a Safer Environment for Workers and Customers.” According to this updated guidance:

(1) employers must contact the local health department in any jurisdiction where a COVID-19 employee resides when there is an outbreak in a workplace;

2) minimum criteria for returning to work must be in alignment with CDC guidance; and

3) additional support (in the form of a table) has been included to help employers who are considering a temporary suspension of operations due to a COVID-19 infection in the workplace.

Also, on July 28, 2020, the California Labor Commissioner released “Safe Reopening FAQs for Workers and Employers” that address many common questions about COVID-19 issues in the workplace, including topics related to safety requirements, face coverings, medical checks, returning to work, and waivers. Of particular note, California employers cannot require employees to waive protections of the Labor Code to return to work (such as waivers of workers’ compensation benefits or disclaiming liability for COVID-19 exposure in the workplace).

If you have questions concerning your obligations to employees as they relate to COVID-19 or in general, please contact Christy Kotowski at or 510-748-0930.


Christy Kotowski joined Outside GC’s California team as Senior Counsel in 2019. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Christy handles a broad range of complex workplace issues at the federal, state and local levels. Previously, she worked as in-house employment counsel for several large companies, and started her legal career in the Silicon Valley office of Morrison & Foerster, one of California’s oldest and largest law firms. She can be reached at or 510-748-0930.

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