Legal Update Memo No. 09-2022 – Classified and Certificated Employees – Notification of Reasonable Assurance of Employment for 2022-2023 (K-12)

Download pdf: 09-2022 Classified and Certificated Employees – Notification of Reasonable Assurance of Employment for 2022-2023 (SPR) w ATTACHMENT

Classified Employees

In order for classified employees who do not work during the summer to be held ineligible for unemployment benefits, Unemployment Insurance Code (“Code”) §1253.3 requires that districts send those employees a “letter of reasonable assurance” no later than 30 days prior to the last day of the academic year or term.[1]  The Code requires very specific language.  The attached sample letters comply with Code requirements.

Letter No. 1 is a sample letter for classified employees who work less than 12 months.

Letter No. 2 is a sample letter for categorical, special, or federally-funded classified employees who work less than 12 months.

Letter No. 3 is a sample letter for classified substitutes to be used if the district has a classified substitute list.

Certificated Employees

It is not necessary to send letters of reasonable assurance to regular certificated or administrative employees because they are defined as “professional” employees with either explicit or implied contracts that serve as a reasonable assurance of re-employment.

Substitute Teachers

Substitute teachers, particularly if they are on a list maintained by the district, do not have contracts and we recommend they be sent a letter of reasonable assurance no later than 30 days prior to the last day of school.  Each district should send letters to the substitutes on their substitute list and not rely on the county office of education to produce letters of reasonable assurance on its behalf.  If a county office of education also employs certificated substitutes for its own programs, those county offices of education should also send a notice of reasonable assurance to those substitutes.

Letter No. 4 is a sample letter to be used for substitute teachers who are on a substitute list.

Schools Operating “Year-Round”

Employees working at schools that operate on a year-round basis may be treated differently in terms of qualifying for unemployment benefits during the summer.  Substitute teachers and other qualifying school employees may be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits if they are not employed during a district’s summer session, and the summer session resembles a “regular term.”  A summer session is deemed a “regular term” if it as a whole, resembles the other academic terms of the school year in which it maintains consistent enrollment, staffing, budget, instructional programs, or other objective characteristics.[2]

The California Supreme Court held, “if a school district with conventional fall and spring semesters also offers a two-week summer session with limited offerings and limited enrollment, the summer session would not be a ‘regular’ term. By contrast, if a school district offers a summer session that resembles the fall and spring semesters in terms of enrollment, staffing, budget, and the instructional program offered, then the summer session would qualify as a ‘regular’ term.” Id.  In response to this type of claim, districts should be prepared to demonstrate that these factors differ between fall/spring and summer terms.

If you question whether your district’s summer term meets the court’s description of a “regular term,” it is recommended that you issue the letter of reasonable assurance to qualified employees as a precaution.

General

Some employees will file for unemployment benefits with the Employment Development Department (“EDD”) after receiving a letter of reasonable assurance.  The Code requires they be told that filing for benefits is an option. In response to such a claim, the district should be prepared to produce a copy of the letter of reasonable assurance issued to the employee.   For this reason it is important to scan or save a copy of each letter of reasonable assurance given to each employee so it can be produced to EDD.

Please contact our office with questions regarding this Legal Update or any other legal matter.

 

The information in this Legal Update is provided as a summary of law and is not intended as legal advice.  Application of the law may vary depending on the particular facts and circumstances at issue.  We, therefore, recommend that you consult legal counsel to advise you on how the law applies to your specific situation.

 © 2022 School and College Legal Services of California

 All rights reserved.  However, SCLS grants permission to any current SCLS client to use, reproduce, and distribute this Legal Update in its entirety for the client’s own non-commercial purposes.

[1] Unemployment Insurance Code Sec. 1253.3, subd. (h) refers to the “end of the academic year or term” not the last day of service for the employee.

[2] United Educators of San Francisco etc. v. California Unemployment Ins. Appeals Bd. (2020) 8 Cal.5th 805.

Legal Update Memo No. 05-2022(CC) REVISED- New 2022 “Supplemental Paid Sick Leave” for Qualifying Reasons and Supplemental Paid Sick Leave based on Positive COVID-19 Test (CC)

Download pdf: 05-2022(CC) REVISED – New 2022 Sup. Paid Sick Leave for Qual. Reasons and Sup. Paid Sick Leave based on Positive COVID-19 Test with attachment (NLK)

* This Legal Update has been revised as noted by the red text (pdf reflects yellow highlighting) to reflect changes.

Effective February 19, 2022, to September 30, 2022, Labor Code section 248.6[1] requires employers with 26 or more employees to provide paid leave to employees who are unable to work or telework for specified reasons related to COVID-19 quarantine or isolation orders, vaccinations, symptoms, and positive tests, as described below.

Employees may make retroactive claims for paid leave based on one or more specified reasons between January 1, 2022, and February 18, 2022, inclusive.

Section 248.6 establishes two banks of leave: one for the same Qualifying Reasons (“QR”) that were in effect under the 2021 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (“SPSL”) law and the second for employees unable to work or telework due to their own or a family member’s positive COVID-19 test.  Employers may require an employee to provide documentation to substantiate the employee or family member’s positive test results, or symptoms related to a vaccination or booster, if symptoms persist in excess of three days.

As with 2021 SPSL, employees taking leave pursuant to Section 248.6 on September 30, 2022, are entitled to take the remainder of the full amount of leave for which they qualify, notwithstanding the expiration of Section 248.6.

I. BANK ONE: SUPPLEMENTAL PAID SICK LEAVE for QUALIFYING REASONS

From February 19, 2022, to September 30, 2022, employers with more than 25 employees must provide SPSL for an employee who is unable to work or telework for any of the following Qualifying Reasons (“QR”):

  1. Employee is subject to a quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19 as defined by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), federal Center for Disease Control (CDC) or a local health officer with jurisdiction over the workplace.[2]
  2. Employee has been advised by a health care provider to isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19.
  3. Employee is attending an appointment for the employee or a “family member” [3] to receive a COVID-19 vaccine or a vaccine booster that prevents the employee from being able to work or telework.
  4. Employee is experiencing symptoms related to a COVID-19 vaccine that prevent the employee from being able to work or telework.

Note:  An employer may limit the total SPSL taken for this QR to three (3) days unless the employee provides verification from a health care provider that the employee or family member is continuing to experience symptoms related to the vaccine or booster.  The three-day period includes the time used pursuant to QR 3 to attend an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine or booster.

  1. Employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
  2. Employee is caring for a family member who is subject to an order or guidance described in QR 1 or has been advised to isolate or quarantine as described in QR 2.
  3. Employee is caring for a child[4] whose school, place of care is closed or otherwise unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19 on the premises.

Upon written or oral request, an employer must make SPSL available for immediate use.

Note that employees who utilized their maximum amount of leave under the 2021 SPSL are eligible for this leave, as long as they qualify.

 

II. BANK TWO: SUPPLEMENTAL PAID SICK LEAVE BASED ON POSITIVE COVID-19 TEST (“PT-SPSL”) 

 A. From February 19, 2022, to September 30, 2022, employers with more than 25 employees must provide paid leave for an employee who is unable to work or telework for either of the following Positive Test Qualifying Reasons (“PT-QR”):

    1. The employee tests positive for COVID-19, or
    2. The employee’s “family member” for whom the employee is providing care tests positive for COVID-19.

An employer’s obligation to provide PT-SPSL is subject to documentation of testing as specified in Section II.B., below.

B. Documentation to Support PT-SPSL Claims

    1. Employee:

Positive Test: An employer may require an employee to provide documentation of the employee’s positive test result. An employer is not required to provide PT-SPSL if the employee refuses to provide such documentation.

Note: An employer may also require the employee to (a) submit to a diagnostic test on or after the fifth day after the employee initially tested positive and (b) provide documentation of the diagnostic test results.  Employer must make the diagnostic test available at no cost to the employee.

    1. Family Member: If an employee requests PT-SPSL based on a family member’s positive test, employer may require the employee to provide documentation of the positive test results before paying the additional leave.
    2. Retroactive Claims: Employees may request retroactive PT-SPSL for leave taken between January 1, 2022 and February 18, 2022. An employer may require an employee to provide documentation of a positive COVID-19 test during the relevant period for retroactive PT-SPSL and SPSL claims.

C. Exhaustion of SPSL is not required to qualify for PT-SPSL

Employees are not required to exhaust SPSL to qualify for PT-SPSL.  The right use to PT-SPSL is based on the occurrence of a PT-QR and subject to documentation of a positive COVID-19 test.

III. RATE OF PAY and RETROACTIVE PAYMENTS

A. For Non-Exempt Employees

    1. For employees who work a regular schedule; the employee’s regular rate of pay for the week in which employee used SPSL or PT- SPSL, or
    2. For employees who work at variable hours and/or variable rates; divide the employee’s total wages (excluding OT pay) by the employee’s total non-overtime hours worked in the full pay periods occurring within the prior 90 days of employment.

B. For Exempt Employees

Calculate SPSL and PT-SPSL compensation in the same manner as employer calculates wages for other forms of paid leave.

C. Compensation Cap for SPSL and PT- SPSL

      1. Employers are not required to pay more than $511/day or $5,110 total for both SPSL and PT-SPSL.
      2. An employee who has reached the compensation cap may elect to use other available paid leave to receive full compensation.

D. Retroactive SPSL and PT-SPSL Claims

      1. Upon the oral or written request of an employee, employer must provide retroactive payment for SPSL / PT- SPSL on or before the payday for the next full pay period, or provide credit for other leave taken by the employee for a QR or PT-QR.
      2. An employer may require an employee to provide documentation of a positive COVID-19 test during the relevant period for retroactive SPSL and PT-SPSL claims. See Sections II.B.1. and II.B.2., above.

IV. LEAVE ENTITLEMENTS / MAXIMUM ENTITLEMENT

Covered employees are eligible for one bank of hours for SPSL and a separate bank of hours for PT-SPSL.  The maximum is a total of 40 hours of SPSL and 40 hours for PT-SPSL. An employee’s specific entitlement is determined by employee’s full-time or part-time status as described below.

A. For Full-Time Employees:

Forty (40) hours, if either: (1) the employer considers the employee to work full time, or (2) the employee worked or was scheduled to work, on average, at least 40 hours per week for the employer in the two weeks preceding the date the employee took leave.

B. For Part-Time Employees:

    1. For a part-time employee with a “normal weekly schedule”, the total number of hours the employee is normally scheduled to work in one week.
    2. For a part-time employee with a “Variable Schedule of Hours” who has been:

a. Employed at least six months, seven times the average number of hours the employee worked each day in the six months preceding the date the employee took leave for a QR or PT-QR;

b. Employed less than six months but more than seven days, seven times the average number of hours the employee worked over the entire period of employment,

c. Employed seven or fewer days, the total number of hours the employee has worked for the employer.

C. Right to Use SPSL and PT-SPSL

    1. An employee may determine how many hours of SPSL or PT- SPSL to use up to the maximum entitlement.
    2. An employer “shall…make [SPSL] available for immediate use…, upon the oral or written request of the …employee to the employer.”
    3. Payment for PT-SPSL is subject to documentation if requested by employer. (See Section II.B.)

D. Offset

If the employer made another supplemental benefit for leave taken on or after January 1, 2022 with compensation at least equal to what is required under Section 248.6, for any of the QRs and PT-QRs, the employer may count those hours toward the employee’s leave entitlement under Section 248.6. See Section IV.

Note, some schools entered into memoranda of understanding with their labor units extending the 2021 SPSL; this may qualify as an “offset” for the 2022 SPSL and PT-SPSL, if it was in effect on or after January 1, 2022, and provided compensation at least equal to what is set forth above. We encourage clients to contact legal counsel to discuss this further.

E. Interaction with other Available Leave

    1. Exclusion Pay: SPSL and PT- SPSL does not limit an employer’s obligation to provide Exclusion Pay under the Emergency Temporary Standards (Title 8-ETS) when an employee contracts COVID-19 or has a workplace close contact.
    2. Paid Sick Days: SPSL and PT- SPSL are in addition to an employee’s rights to Paid Sick Days under the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act.
    3. An employer cannot require an employee to use other paid leave, including Paid Sick Days and Exclusion Pay, for a QR or PT-QR prior to using SPSL or PT- SPSL.

V. NOTICE REQUIREMENTS

A. General Notice – The state model notice is attached. Employers should display the notice conspicuously in the workplace and provide a copy to employees who do not frequent the workplace.  Delivery by email is permissible.

B. Employee Notice of Leave Use

    1. The employer must provide all employees with written notice that sets for the amount of SPSL and PT-SPSL they used through the pay period in which it was due to be paid.
    2. The notice may be provided on an employee’s itemized wage statement or in a separate writing provided on the designated pay date with the employee’s payment of wages.
    3. The employer must specify zero hours if the employee has not used any SPSL or PT-SPSL.
    4. This notice requirement goes into effect the next full pay period (March, 2022) following the effective date of Section 248.6.

Please contact our office with questions regarding this Legal Update or any other legal matter.

 

The information in this Legal Update is provided as a summary of law and is not intended as legal advice.  Application of the law may vary depending on the particular facts and circumstances at issue.  We, therefore, recommend that you consult legal counsel to advise you on how the law applies to your specific situation.

© 2022 School and College Legal Services of California

All rights reserved.  However, SCLS grants permission to any current SCLS client to use, reproduce, and distribute this Legal Update in its entirety for the client’s own non-commercial purposes.

[1] Future references will be to the Labor Code section.

[2] The California Department of Industrial Relations clarified in relation to 2021 SPSL that the “order or guidelines must be specific to the covered employee’s circumstances.  A general stay-at-home order would not count.”  DIR FAQs (https://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/COVID19Resources/FAQ-for-SPSL-2021.html)

[3]Family member” means any of the following:

(1) A child, which for purposes of this article means a biological, adopted, or foster child, stepchild, legal ward, or a child to whom the employee stands in loco parentis. This definition of a child is applicable regardless of age or dependency status.

(2) A biological, adoptive, or foster parent, stepparent, or legal guardian of an employee or the employee’s spouse or registered domestic partner, or a person who stood in loco parentis when the employee was a minor child.

(3) A spouse.

(4) A registered domestic partner.

(5) A grandparent.

(6) A grandchild.

(7) A sibling.

(Lab. C. 245.5(c), 248.2(b)((1)(F) – Healthy Families Healthy Workplaces Act Definitions)

[4] See f.n. 1, paragraph 1.  “Child” is not restricted by age or require that a child over 18 be incapable of self-care.

Legal Update Memo No. 08-2022 REVISED- New 2022 “Supplemental Paid Sick Leave” for Qualifying Reasons and Supplemental Paid Sick Leave based on Positive COVID-19 Test (K-12)

Download pdf: 08-2022 REVISED – New 2022 Sup. Paid Sick Leave for Qual. Reasons and Sup. Paid Sick Leave based on Positive COVID-19 Test with attachment (NLK)

* This Legal Update has been revised as noted by the red text (pdf reflects yellow highlighting) to reflect changes.

Effective February 19, 2022, to September 30, 2022, Labor Code section 248.6[1] requires employers with 26 or more employees to provide paid leave to employees who are unable to work or telework for specified reasons related to COVID-19 quarantine or isolation orders, vaccinations, symptoms, and positive tests, as described below.

Employees may make retroactive claims for paid leave based on one or more specified reasons between January 1, 2022, and February 18, 2022, inclusive.

Section 248.6 establishes two banks of leave: one for the same Qualifying Reasons (“QR”) that were in effect under the 2021 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (“SPSL”) law and the second for employees unable to work or telework due to their own or a family member’s positive COVID-19 test.  Employers may require an employee to provide documentation to substantiate the employee or family member’s positive test results, or symptoms related to a vaccination or booster, if symptoms persist in excess of three days.

As with 2021 SPSL, employees taking leave pursuant to Section 248.6 on September 30, 2022, are entitled to take the remainder of the full amount of leave for which they qualify, notwithstanding the expiration of Section 248.6.

I. BANK ONE: SUPPLEMENTAL PAID SICK LEAVE for QUALIFYING REASONS

From February 19, 2022, to September 30, 2022, employers with more than 25 employees must provide SPSL for an employee who is unable to work or telework for any of the following Qualifying Reasons (“QR”):

  1. Employee is subject to a quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19 as defined by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), federal Center for Disease Control (CDC) or a local health officer with jurisdiction over the workplace.[2]
  2. Employee has been advised by a health care provider to isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19.
  3. Employee is attending an appointment for the employee or a “family member” [3] to receive a COVID-19 vaccine or a vaccine booster that prevents the employee from being able to work or telework.
  4. Employee is experiencing symptoms related to a COVID-19 vaccine that prevent the employee from being able to work or telework.

Note:  An employer may limit the total SPSL taken for this QR to three (3) days unless the employee provides verification from a health care provider that the employee or family member is continuing to experience symptoms related to the vaccine or booster.  The three-day period includes the time used pursuant to QR 3 to attend an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine or booster.

  1. Employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
  2. Employee is caring for a family member who is subject to an order or guidance described in QR 1 or has been advised to isolate or quarantine as described in QR 2.
  3. Employee is caring for a child[4] whose school, place of care is closed or otherwise unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19 on the premises.

Upon written or oral request, an employer must make SPSL available for immediate use.

Note that employees who utilized their maximum amount of leave under the 2021 SPSL are eligible for this leave, as long as they qualify.

II. BANK TWO: SUPPLEMENTAL PAID SICK LEAVE BASED ON POSITIVE COVID-19 TEST (“PT-SPSL”) 

A. From February 19, 2022, to September 30, 2022, employers with more than 25 employees must provide paid leave for an employee who is unable to work or telework for either of the following Positive Test Qualifying Reasons (“PT-QR”):

    1. The employee tests positive for COVID-19, or
    2. The employee’s “family member” for whom the employee is providing care tests positive for COVID-19.

An employer’s obligation to provide PT-SPSL is subject to documentation of testing as specified in Section II.B., below.

B. Documentation to Support PT-SPSL Claims

    1. Employee:

Positive Test: An employer may require an employee to provide documentation of the employee’s positive test result. An employer is not required to provide PT-SPSL if the employee refuses to provide such documentation.

Note: An employer may also require the employee to (a) submit to a diagnostic test on or after the fifth day after the employee initially tested positive and (b) provide documentation of the diagnostic test results.  Employer must make the diagnostic test available at no cost to the employee.

    1. Family Member: If an employee requests PT-SPSL based on a family member’s positive test, employer may require the employee to provide documentation of the positive test results before paying the additional leave.
    2. Retroactive Claims: Employees may request retroactive PT-SPSL for leave taken between January 1, 2022 and February 18, 2022. An employer may require an employee to provide documentation of a positive COVID-19 test during the relevant period for retroactive PT-SPSL and SPSL claims.

C. Exhaustion of SPSL is not required to qualify for PT-SPSL

Employees are not required to exhaust SPSL to qualify for PT-SPSL.  The right use to PT-SPSL is based on the occurrence of a PT-QR and subject to documentation of a positive COVID-19 test.

III. RATE OF PAY and RETROACTIVE PAYMENTS

A. For Non-Exempt Employees

    1. For employees who work a regular schedule; the employee’s regular rate of pay for the week in which employee used SPSL or PT- SPSL, or
    2. For employees who work at variable hours and/or variable rates; divide the employee’s total wages (excluding OT pay) by the employee’s total non-overtime hours worked in the full pay periods occurring within the prior 90 days of employment.

B. For Exempt Employees

Calculate SPSL and PT-SPSL compensation in the same manner as employer calculates wages for other forms of paid leave.

C. Compensation Cap for SPSL and PT- SPSL

      1. Employers are not required to pay more than $511/day or $5,110 total for both SPSL and PT-SPSL.
      2. An employee who has reached the compensation cap may elect to use other available paid leave to receive full compensation.

D. Retroactive SPSL and PT-SPSL Claims

      1. Upon the oral or written request of an employee, employer must provide retroactive payment for SPSL / PT- SPSL on or before the payday for the next full pay period, or provide credit for other leave taken by the employee for a QR or PT-QR.
      2. An employer may require an employee to provide documentation of a positive COVID-19 test during the relevant period for retroactive SPSL and PT-SPSL claims. See Sections II.B.1. and II.B.2., above.

IV. LEAVE ENTITLEMENTS / MAXIMUM ENTITLEMENT

 Covered employees are eligible for one bank of hours for SPSL and a separate bank of hours for PT-SPSL.  The maximum is a total of 40 hours of SPSL and 40 hours for PT-SPSL. An employee’s specific entitlement is determined by employee’s full-time or part-time status as described below.

A. For Full-Time Employees:

Forty (40) hours, if either: (1) the employer considers the employee to work full time, or (2) the employee worked or was scheduled to work, on average, at least 40 hours per week for the employer in the two weeks preceding the date the employee took leave.

B. For Part-Time Employees:

    1. For a part-time employee with a “normal weekly schedule”, the total number of hours the employee is normally scheduled to work in one week.
    2. For a part-time employee with a “Variable Schedule of Hours” who has been:

a. Employed at least six months, seven times the average number of hours the employee worked each day in the six months preceding the date the employee took leave for a QR or PT-QR;

b. Employed less than six months but more than seven days, seven times the average number of hours the employee worked over the entire period of employment,

c. Employed seven or fewer days, the total number of hours the employee has worked for the employer.

C. Right to Use SPSL and PT-SPSL

    1. An employee may determine how many hours of SPSL or PT- SPSL to use up to the maximum entitlement.
    2. An employer “shall…make [SPSL] available for immediate use…, upon the oral or written request of the …employee to the employer.”
    3. Payment for PT-SPSL is subject to documentation if requested by employer. (See Section II.B.)

D. Offset

If the employer made another supplemental benefit for leave taken on or after January 1, 2022 with compensation at least equal to what is required under Section 248.6, for any of the QRs and PT-QRs, the employer may count those hours toward the employee’s leave entitlement under Section 248.6. See Section IV.

Note, some schools entered into memoranda of understanding with their labor units extending the 2021 SPSL; this may qualify as an “offset” for the 2022 SPSL and PT-SPSL, if it was in effect on or after January 1, 2022, and provided compensation at least equal to what is set forth above. We encourage clients to contact legal counsel to discuss this further.

E. Interaction with other Available Leave

    1. Exclusion Pay: SPSL and PT- SPSL does not limit an employer’s obligation to provide Exclusion Pay under the Emergency Temporary Standards (Title 8-ETS) when an employee contracts COVID-19 or has a workplace close contact.
    2. Paid Sick Days: SPSL and PT- SPSL are in addition to an employee’s rights to Paid Sick Days under the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act.
    3. An employer cannot require an employee to use other paid leave, including Paid Sick Days and Exclusion Pay, for a QR or PT-QR prior to using SPSL or PT- SPSL.

 V. NOTICE REQUIREMENTS

A. General Notice – The state model notice is attached. Employers should display the notice conspicuously in the workplace and provide a copy to employees who do not frequent the workplace.  Delivery by email is permissible.

B. Employee Notice of Leave Use

      1. The employer must provide all employees with written notice that sets for the amount of SPSL and PT-SPSL they used through the pay period in which it was due to be paid.
      2. The notice may be provided on an employee’s itemized wage statement or in a separate writing provided on the designated pay date with the employee’s payment of wages.
      3. The employer must specify zero hours if the employee has not used any SPSL or PT-SPSL.
      4. This notice requirement goes into effect the next full pay period (March, 2022) following the effective date of Section 248.6.

Please contact our office with questions regarding this Legal Update or any other legal matter.

 

The information in this Legal Update is provided as a summary of law and is not intended as legal advice.  Application of the law may vary depending on the particular facts and circumstances at issue.  We, therefore, recommend that you consult legal counsel to advise you on how the law applies to your specific situation.

© 2022 School and College Legal Services of California

All rights reserved.  However, SCLS grants permission to any current SCLS client to use, reproduce, and distribute this Legal Update in its entirety for the client’s own non-commercial purposes.

[1] Future references will be to the Labor Code section.

[2] The California Department of Industrial Relations clarified in relation to 2021 SPSL that the “order or guidelines must be specific to the covered employee’s circumstances.  A general stay-at-home order would not count.”  DIR FAQs (https://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/COVID19Resources/FAQ-for-SPSL-2021.html)

[3]Family member” means any of the following:

(1) A child, which for purposes of this article means a biological, adopted, or foster child, stepchild, legal ward, or a child to whom the employee stands in loco parentis. This definition of a child is applicable regardless of age or dependency status.

(2) A biological, adoptive, or foster parent, stepparent, or legal guardian of an employee or the employee’s spouse or registered domestic partner, or a person who stood in loco parentis when the employee was a minor child.

(3) A spouse.

(4) A registered domestic partner.

(5) A grandparent.

(6) A grandchild.

(7) A sibling.

(Lab. C. 245.5(c), 248.2(b)((1)(F) – Healthy Families Healthy Workplaces Act Definitions)

[4] See f.n. 1, paragraph 1.  “Child” is not restricted by age or require that a child over 18 be incapable of self-care.

Legal Update Memo No. 04-2022(CC) – Anti-Bias Training is Considered a Professional Service/Special Service and Exempt from the Competitive Bidding Requirements (CC)

Download pdf:   04-2022(CC) – Anti-Bias Training is Considered a Professional ServiceSpecial Service and Exempt from the Competitive Bidding Requirements (LWS)

On December 15, 2021, the California Court of Appeal, Second District, issued a decision in Fair Education Santa Barbara v. Santa Barbara Unified School District et al.[1] The Court determined that the school district’s contract for anti-bias training was considered “professional services” under Public Contract Code section 20111[2] and “special services” under Government Code section 53060 and therefore, was exempt from the competitive bidding requirements.

Public Contract Code section 20651 requires that the “governing board of any community college district … shall let any contracts involving an expenditure of more than fifty thousand dollars ($50,000)” for the purchase of equipment, materials, supplies, certain repairs, or services, “to the lowest responsible bidder … or else reject all bids.” These bidding requirements “shall not apply to professional services or advice.” (Id. at subd. (c), italics added.) In addition, Government Code section 53060 permits a legislative body of any public corporation or district to “contract with and employ any persons for the furnishing [of] … special services and advice in financial, economic, accounting, engineering, legal, or administrative matters if such persons are specially trained and experienced and competent to perform the special services required.”

In determining whether the anti-bias training fell within either of these two bidding exemptions, the Court looked at the nature of the services, the necessary qualifications required of a person furnishing the services, and the availability of the service from public sources. The Court found that the anti-bias training facilitators has specialized training, knowledge, and skills that met the school district’s specific needs for training staff, students and parents. In addition, many of the facilitators were former educators who held a bachelor’s degree or other advanced degrees and all of the facilitators were required to undergo at least 60 hours of training. The facilitators were required to live locally and had either attended or worked in local school systems and had experience training other school districts, government entities and organizations. In light of these factors, the Court concluded that the anti-bias training fell within the definition of both “professional services” and “special services” and did not have to be competitively bid.

This decision is a good reminder that services must be competitively bid if the contract will exceed the bid limit[3] unless the community college district determines that the services being provided fall within the definition of “professional services” under Public Contract Code section 20651 or “special services” under Government Code section 53060. Community college districts are encouraged to contact our office for any assistance in determining whether certain services will fall under one or both of these bidding exemptions.

Please contact our office with questions regarding this Legal Update or any other legal matter.

 

The information in this Legal Update is provided as a summary of law and is not intended as legal advice.  Application of the law may vary depending on the particular facts and circumstances at issue.  We, therefore, recommend that you consult legal counsel to advise you on how the law applies to your specific situation.

© 2022 School and College Legal Services of California

All rights reserved.  However, SCLS grants permission to any current SCLS client to use, reproduce, and distribute this Legal Update in its entirety for the client’s own non-commercial purposes.

[1] 72 Cal.App.5th 884

[2] Public Contract Code section 20651 for community college districts

[3] $99,100 for 2022

Legal Update Memo No. 07-2022 – Anti-Bias Training is Considered a Professional Service/Special Service and Exempt from the Competitive Bidding Requirements (K-12)

Download pdf: 07-2022 – Anti-Bias Training is Considered a Professional ServiceSpecial Service and Exempt from the Competitive Bidding Requirements (LWS)

On December 15, 2021, the California Court of Appeal, Second District, issued a decision in Fair Education Santa Barbara v. Santa Barbara Unified School District et al.[1] The Court determined that the school district’s contract for anti-bias training was considered “professional services” under Public Contract Code section 20111 and “special services” under Government Code section 53060 and therefore, was exempt from the competitive bidding requirements.

Public Contract Code section 20111 requires that the “governing board of any school district … shall let any contracts involving an expenditure of more than fifty thousand dollars ($50,000)” for the purchase of equipment, materials, supplies, certain repairs, or services, “to the lowest responsible bidder … or else reject all bids.” These bidding requirements “shall not apply to professional services or advice.” (Id. at subd. (d), italics added.) In addition, Government Code section 53060 permits a legislative body of any public corporation or district to “contract with and employ any persons for the furnishing [of] … special services and advice in financial, economic, accounting, engineering, legal, or administrative matters if such persons are specially trained and experienced and competent to perform the special services required.”

In determining whether the anti-bias training fell within either of these two bidding exemptions, the Court looked at the nature of the services, the necessary qualifications required of a person furnishing the services, and the availability of the service from public sources. The Court found that the anti-bias training facilitators has specialized training, knowledge, and skills that met the school district’s specific needs for training staff, students and parents. In addition, many of the facilitators were former educators who held a bachelor’s degree or other advanced degrees and all of the facilitators were required to undergo at least 60 hours of training. The facilitators were required to live locally and had either attended or worked in local school systems and had experience training other school districts, government entities and organizations. In light of these factors, the Court concluded that the anti-bias training fell within the definition of both “professional services” and “special services” and did not have to be competitively bid.

This decision is a good reminder that services must be competitively bid if the contract will exceed the bid limit[2] unless the local education agency determines that the services being provided fall within the definition of “professional services” under Public Contract Code section 20111 or “special services” under Government Code section 53060. Local education agencies are encouraged to contact our office for any assistance in determining whether certain services will fall under one or both of these bidding exemptions.

Please contact our office with questions regarding this Legal Update or any other legal matter.

 

The information in this Legal Update is provided as a summary of law and is not intended as legal advice.  Application of the law may vary depending on the particular facts and circumstances at issue.  We, therefore, recommend that you consult legal counsel to advise you on how the law applies to your specific situation.

© 2022 School and College Legal Services of California

All rights reserved.  However, SCLS grants permission to any current SCLS client to use, reproduce, and distribute this Legal Update in its entirety for the client’s own non-commercial purposes.

[1] 72 Cal.App.5th 884

[2] $99,100 for 2022

Legal Update Memo No. 06-2022 – CDPH Revises its K-12 School Guidance to Give a New Group Tracing Notification Option for Student Exposures (K-12)

Download pdf:  06-2022 – CDPH Revises its K-12 School Guidance to Give a New Group Tracing Notification Option for Student Exposures w Attachment (JH)

On January 12, 2022, the California Department of Public Health (“CDPH”) revised its COVID-19 Public Health Guidance for K-12 Schools in California, 2021-22 School Year.[1]  CDPH revised its student quarantine guidance and provided a new “Group Tracing” Notification process as a less onerous option to pre-existing quarantine and contact tracing guidelines for K-12 students.[2] Attached at the end of this Legal Update is CDPH’s sample Group Tracing Notification letter to Parents/Guardians for Student Exposures.

A student “close contact” is defined as more than 15 minutes over a 24 hour period within six feet in an indoor space (including on buses) at school (“exposure”). For students who have been exposed at school to a person who tested positive, K-12 schools can now follow one of the two options:

STUDENT EXPOSURE QUARANTINE RULES (OPTION A):

-For Vaccinated Students, or Students who had a COVID-19 infection within last 90 days, who are Exposed: No quarantine needed unless have symptoms or test positive. Wear a mask for 10 days.

-For Unvaccinated Students who are Exposed – Both Parties Wearing a Mask: No quarantine needed if, for 10 days after, are asymptomatic, undergo twice weekly testing, and excluded from extracurricular school activities (including sports) and community activities – OR – quarantine for five days and return after Day 5 if asymptomatic and a negative test from Day 5 or later.

-For Unvaccinated Students who are Exposed – Unmasked: Stay home for 5 days, can return if no symptoms AND tests negative; and should wear a mask until day 10. Otherwise, stay home for 10 days.

GROUP TRACING NOTIFICATION (OPTION B):

After an exposure (shared indoor space for over 15 minutes in a 24 hour period with a positive case at school), K-12 schools can send a notice to parents of “groups” of exposed students (classmates, sports teammates, extracurricular cohorts, etc.) in lieu of contact tracing.  Regardless of vaccination or prior infection status, or whether masked, students do not have to quarantine unless they develop symptoms or test positive. Students are strongly recommended to get tested 3-5 days after exposure.  Students must continue to wear a mask indoors. Exposed students must participate in testing in order to take part in sports and extracurricular activities.

*Please note that, as of January 8, 2022, for students or employees who test positive, CDPH recommends staying home for at least five days, regardless of vaccination status, previous COVID-19 infection, or lack of symptoms. Isolation can end after Day 5 if asymptomatic and a negative test from Day 5 or later, and the individual stays masked indoors through Day 10. Otherwise, the individual is to stay home through Day 10.[3]

Please contact our office with questions regarding this Legal Update or any other legal matter.

 

The information in this Legal Update is provided as a summary of law and is not intended as legal advice.  Application of the law may vary depending on the particular facts and circumstances at issue.  We, therefore, recommend that you consult legal counsel to advise you on how the law applies to your specific situation.

© 2022 School and College Legal Services of California

All rights reserved.  However, SCLS grants permission to any current SCLS client to use, reproduce, and distribute this Legal Update in its entirety for the client’s own non-commercial purposes.

[1]  https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/K-12-Guidance-2021-22-School-Year.aspx.

[2] https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/Group-Tracing-Approach-to-Students-Exposed-to-COVID-19.aspx.

[3]  https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/Guidance-on-Isolation-and-Quarantine-for-COVID-19-Contact-Tracing.aspx.

Legal Update Memo No. 03-2022(CC) – FAQ Regarding Political Activities by Local Educational Agencies, Employees, and Candidates (CC)

Download pdf: 03-2022(CC) – FAQ Regarding Political Activties by LEAs Employees and Candidates (EES)

As the 2022 election cycle gears up, the following Legal Update provides guidance regarding political activities for local educational agencies, employees and candidates.

AGENCY[1] Resources

Question: Can District[2] funds or supplies be used to urge support for or defeat of an upcoming ballot measure or candidate?

No. Education Code section 7054, subdivision (a) provides:

No school district or community college district funds, services, supplies, or equipment shall be used for the purpose of urging the support or defeat of any ballot measure or candidate, including, but not limited to, any candidate for election to the governing board of the district.

And, subdivision (c) imposes criminal penalties for a violation of this Section.

In addition, Government Code section 8314 provides that “[i]t is unlawful for any elected state or local officer, including any state or local appointee, employee, or consultant, to use or permit others to use public resources for a campaign activity . . . . .”

Question: May a District prohibit the use of District mailboxes to distribute campaign materials?

Yes. Under Education Code section 7054, a District may prohibit the use of campus mailboxes for distribution of materials urging the support or defeat of any ballot measure or candidate. In San Leandro Teachers Association v. Governing Board,[3] the California Supreme Court upheld a school district’s prohibition of the use of internal faculty mailboxes by the teacher’s union as a means of distributing partisan political information to its members. However, the Court noted that section 7054 does not prohibit a school board from opening up mailboxes to political endorsement literature, as long as this is done “on an equitable basis.”

Question: May the District fund a “mass mailing” that features an elected official?

No. The Political Reform Act of 1974 was intended to abolish practices that unfairly favor incumbents.[4] One means of preventing unfair advantage for an incumbent is the prohibition on use of public funds for mass mailings that “feature” the elected official. Thus, “no newsletter or other mass mailing shall be sent at public expense.”[5]

The “mass mailing” restrictions are designed to prohibit “elected officials from using public moneys to perpetuate themselves in public office.”[6]

Government Code section 89002 defines a “mass mailing” for purposes of section 89001 as follows:

(1) A tangible item delivered, by any means, to the recipient at the recipient’s residence, place of employment or business, or post office box.

(2) The item either: (A) Features an elected officer affiliated with the agency that produces or sends the mailing; [or] (B) Includes the name, office, photograph, or other reference to an elected officer affiliated with the agency that produces or sends the mailing, and is prepared or sent in cooperation, consultation, coordination, or concert with the elected officer.

(3) The costs of distribution are paid for with public money or the costs of design, production, and printing exceeding fifty dollars ($50) are paid with public moneys, and the design, production, or printing is done with the intent of sending the item other than as permitted by this section.

(4) More than 200 substantially similar items are sent in a single calendar month.

Question: May a District Foundation use privately raised funds to support a ballot campaign?

Yes, so long as no District funds, personnel or equipment are used in that effort. Certain contributions may be reportable under the Political Reform Act and the Foundation should

consult with its legal advisor as there are significant restrictions on a non-profit corporation’s ability to engage in political activity, the violation of which may result in loss of tax-exempt status.

Question: May a booster group use District facilities to help sponsor a campaign in support of a school bond measure?

Yes, with conditions. Organizations separate from the school district itself, such as employee, student, or parent organizations, may hold events and disseminate information on school grounds that advocate for or against a measure providing they receive approval to use school facilities for such purposes through the “Civic Center Act.”[7] Groups or individuals with opposing viewpoints have the same right to use school facilities under the Civic Center Act. “The First Amendment precludes the government from making public facilities available to only favored political viewpoints; once a public forum is opened, equal access must be provided to all competing factions.”[8]

Candidates/Incumbents

Question: Can incumbents send campaign e-mails from or to District e-mail addresses?

No. Candidates who have District e-mail accounts should not use those accounts to send campaign materials. However, as detailed in the next question, a candidate may use their private email account to send a mass e-mail that targets a significant segment of the public even if some of those contacted are District employees.

Incumbents are also encouraged to be aware of agency policies regarding using the symbols, or indicia of your office such as an official’s title or the agency seal. Candidates for re-election should be clear in campaign materials that use of an official title is for identification purposes only.

Question: May a candidate send letters to District employees seeking support?

Candidates should not initiate contact with District employees in an attempt to enlist their support for the campaign; these actions may cause undue pressure on the employee to engage in the political activity.

However, the candidate may send “mass mailings” that target a significant segment of the public even if some of those contacted are District employees. Mailing lists should be obtained from a public source, not from the District.

Question: May a candidate promise an employee a promotion in exchange for their support of the candidate?

No. Persons who hold office, or who are seeking election to office, may not threaten adverse consequences to District employees if they fail to support them, or promise advantages or benefits to District employees who do support them.[9]

Question: May a candidate seek political contributions from District employees?

No. Current district employees and candidates for elective office shall not solicit political contributions from other district officers or employees unless “the solicitation is part of a solicitation made to a significant segment of the public . . .” It does not matter whether the solicitation is direct or indirect.[10]

Question: May a candidate obtain from the District the home addresses of District employees to send them campaign material?

No. A candidate for the Board may not access employee home addresses from the District. They are not public records.[11] If an incumbent used his or her public position to do so, it would be a violation of Education Code section 7054.

Question: May a candidate initiate contact with parents or boosters to enlist support?

Yes. A candidate for office has the right to meet with members of the general public to enlist support. The “general public” includes parents and boosters.

Question: May a candidate address an employee group on site?

Candidates or proponents are allowed to do this only at the invitation of the employee group and only during reasonable non-working hours.

Question: May a candidate attend school events such as back to school night to enlist support?

This is allowed with certain restrictions and should be accompanied by an approved Use of School Facilities permit. The main restriction is that the presence may not interfere or disrupt the school event itself. Typically a candidate or proponent is provided a table in a lobby area to display campaign materials and to discuss campaign issues only if approached by an interested party. Candidates or proponents shall not initiate interactions with staff or participants attending the school event. Such attendance would be open to all candidates.

Question: May a candidate meet with a District official during school hours?

Yes, so long as the meeting is not disruptive, so long as the subject matter is limited to discussing school business (i.e. not campaigning), and so long as the school official is available to meet with other candidates as well.

Candidates who are seeking re-election should be aware that staff time is a District resource. As such, incumbents are encouraged to keep in mind that if you wouldn’t ask a District official for this discussion or to look into a matter if you weren’t running for re-election, it is a misuse of District resources to look into it because you are running for re-election.

Question: May the candidate seek contributions from vendors of the District?

While a private vendor has a right to make political contributions consistent with legal requirements, a candidate must be careful to avoid the appearance of “pay to play” or a quid pro quo when seeking a contribution from a vendor.

Lobbying

Question: Can a District spend public money to lobby the Legislature?

Yes. While public agency lobbying efforts undeniably involve the use of public funds to promote causes which some members of the public may not support, one of the primary functions of elected and appointed executive officials is to devise legislative proposals to attempt to implement the current administration’s policies. Because the legislative process contemplates that interested parties will attend legislative hearings to explain the potential benefits or detriments of proposed legislation, public agency lobbying, within the limits authorized by statute, in no way undermines or distorts the legislative process. By contrast, the use of the public treasury to mount an election campaign which attempts to influence the resolution of issues which our Constitution leaves to the “free election” of the people does present a serious threat to the integrity of the electoral process.[12]

Ballot Measures

Question: Can a District use District money to send an informational letter to the public about a ballot measure?

Yes.  Education Code section 7054, subdivision (b) provides:

Nothing in this section shall prohibit the use of any of the public resources described in subdivision (a) to provide information to the public about the possible effects of any bond issue or other ballot measure if both of the following conditions are met:

(1)  The informational activities are otherwise authorized by the Constitution or laws of this state.

(2)  The information provided constitutes a fair and impartial presentation of relevant facts to aid the electorate in reaching an informed judgment regarding the bond issue or ballot measure.” (Emphasis added.)

An impartial presentation of the facts will necessarily include all consequences, good and bad, of the proposal, not only the anticipated improvement in educational opportunities, but also the increased tax rate and such other less desirable consequences that may be foreseen.[13]

Question: What are some examples of “informational” materials paid for with public money that have been found to be illegal?

The line between unauthorized campaign expenditures and authorized informational activities is often unclear. “In such cases, the determination of the propriety or impropriety of the expenditure depends upon a careful consideration of such factors as the style, tenor and timing of the publication; no hard and fast rule governs every case.”[14]

  • In one case, the trustees of the Madera Union High School District spent public funds to place a full-page advertisement in a general circulation newspaper one day before a school board election. The advertisement did not expressly advocate voters to “Vote Yes” on the bond issue, but stated in large letters, “A CLASSROOM EMERGENCY EXISTS NOW AT MADERA UNION HIGH SCHOOL,” and listed a number of reasons why additional funds were needed by the school district. The Attorney General concluded that, in light of the “style, tenor and timing” of the advertisement, it was unlawful for the district to have expended public funds for the advertisement.[15

Question: Can a school board express its opinion regarding a ballot measure?

Yes. In Choice-in-Education League v. Los Angeles Unified School District,[16] the court of appeal considered whether it was proper for the school district board of trustees to announce at a public meeting, which was televised, its opposition to a proposed “choice in education” ballot initiative.  In finding that the Board’s conduct was legal, the court noted that speakers in favor of the initiative were afforded an opportunity to speak at that board meeting in accordance with the Brown Act. The fact that no one chose to speak in favor of the initiative at the meeting did not bar the Board from expressing its view on the initiative.[17]

Note:  The Board may express its opinion in a resolution, but it should refrain from telling voters how to vote.

Districts must be cautious regarding how to disseminate the Board’s opinion because section 7054 does not permit District funds to be spent to further political advocacy. However, the Board resolution could be posted on the District website in the same manner as other District resolutions.

Question: Can Districts spend public money to evaluate whether it is appropriate to propose a ballot initiative?

Yes. Because districts are authorized to place certain measures on the ballot, they may spend public money to evaluate whether to do so.

For example, the Attorney General has found that it is permissible for a community college district to spend district funds to hire a consultant for the purpose of evaluating the likelihood of the electorate’s approval of a bond measure. The express power to propose a bond measure on the ballot when the district board finds it advisable to do so implies that the board has the power to make reasonable expenditures for the purpose of gathering information in order to exercise its discretion in an informed manner.[18] The district may also submit a partisan ballot argument in favor of a bond measure.

Not all pre-campaign public expenditures, however, are permissible. For example, a district board may not spend district funds on activities that form the basis for an eventual campaign to obtain approval of a bond measure and district resources may not be used to recruit or organize supporters for a campaign or raise funds for the campaign.

District Employees: Political Activities and Expression

Question: May a public employee engage in political activities while wearing a uniform utilized in his/her public employment?

No. See Government Code section 3206.

Question: Can District employees engage in political activities during off-duty time?

Yes. Political activities are allowed during off-duty time so long as District resources are not used. No political activities are allowed during work time.

Teachers have the right to discuss with fellow teachers issues of public concern (such as cutbacks to educational funding) in faculty rooms and lunchrooms during duty-free periods.[19]

Education Code section 7056 provides:

(a)  Nothing in this article prevents an officer or employee of a local agency from soliciting or receiving political funds or contributions to promote the support or defeat a ballot measure that would affect the rate of pay, hours of work, retirement, civil service, or other working conditions of officers or employees of the local agency. These activities are prohibited during working hours. In addition, entry into buildings and grounds under the control of a local agency for such purposes during working hours is also prohibited.

(b)  Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit any recognized employee organization or its officers, agents, and representatives from soliciting or receiving political funds or contributions from employee members to promote the support or defeat of any ballot measure on school district property or community college district property during nonworking time. As used in this subdivision, “nonworking time” means time outside an employee’s working hours, whether before or after school or during the employee’s luncheon period or other scheduled work intermittency during the school day.[20]

Education Code section 7055 provides:

The governing body of each local agency may establish rules and regulations on the following:

(a)  Officers and employees engaging in political activity during working hours.

(b)  Political activities on the premises of the local agency.

Question: Can a District regulate the wearing of political buttons by employees or other political expression by employees while on duty?

Yes. A District can restrict political activities that occur during instructional activities, but not during non-instructional time, such as a lunch break.

In California Teachers Association v. Governing Board,[21] the court held that under Education Code section 7055, a school district could prohibit its employees from wearing political buttons during “instructional activities.” This case considers the interplay between section 7055’s grant of authority to regulate employee political activity and constitutional free speech guarantees.  The court concluded that these constitutional rights should be read to limit regulation of political advocacy under section 7055 to instructional settings: “Under the California Constitution, as well as the First Amendment, school authorities retain the power to dissociate themselves from political controversy by prohibiting their employees from engaging in political advocacy in instructional settings.” The court also expressly held that “as applied to non-instructional settings [the] district’s regulation is unconstitutional but that in instructional settings it may be enforced.”  See also 77 Ops. Cal. Atty. Gen 56 (1994).

Question: Can a school district prohibit teachers from wearing political buttons while attending Back to School Night, where teachers meet only with parents? 

No. “The event does not involve an instructional setting for pupils of the district. Rather, the parents are in attendance to show support for their children’s educational activities. In this setting, it need not be feared that ‘young and impressionable minds’ will be unduly influenced by teachers wearing political buttons or that the parents will believe that the teachers’ political buttons reflect the view of the district’s government board or other school officials.”[22]

Question: Can an employee be prohibited from displaying a large campaign sign on her private car in the District lot?

Yes. In one case, an employee’s vehicle displayed a two-by-eight foot sign indicating which school board candidates the union endorsed in order to influence voters in the upcoming election.  The district’s request that the sign be removed or the vehicle parked off school property was challenged as an unfair labor practice and ultimately addressed by the California Public Employment Relations Board (“PERB”). Under the circumstances of the case, PERB found the school’s actions seeking removal of either the sign or the vehicle were permissible under section 7055.[23]

Question: Can teachers wear union buttons while in the classroom?

Yes. PERB has held that school districts cannot prohibit teachers from wearing union buttons in the classroom absent “special circumstances.” One such circumstance might be “distraction,” but PERB found that the district in that case failed to establish distraction as a special circumstance justifying its ban on union buttons. In addition, the Board rejected the employer’s contention that the buttons at issue could be considered “political activity” within the meaning of Education Code section 7055.[24]

Question: May a union group conduct a meeting at a school site when one of the topics is whether to support a school board member’s candidacy?

Yes.[25]

Question: If a District employee makes a political contribution, is that reportable?

Contributions to a political campaign may be subject to reporting requirements of the Political Reform Act. There are extensive regulations on this subject available on the Fair Political Practices Commission website.

Please contact our office with questions regarding this Legal Update or any other legal matter.

 

The information in this Legal Update is provided as a summary of law and is not intended as legal advice.  Application of the law may vary depending on the particular facts and circumstances at issue.  We, therefore, recommend that you consult legal counsel to advise you on how the law applies to your specific situation.

© 2022 School and College Legal Services of California

All rights reserved.  However, SCLS grants permission to any current SCLS client to use, reproduce, and distribute this Legal Update in its entirety for the client’s own non-commercial purposes.

[1] Education Code section 7051: “Local agency” means a county superintendent of schools, an elementary, high, or unified school district, or a community college district.

[2] For purposes of this memo, “District” shall be understood to include K-12 school districts, county offices of education and community college districts.

[3] San Leandro Teachers Association v. Governing Board, 46 Cal.4th. 822 (2009).

[4] Government Code section 81002, subd. (e).

[5] Government Code section 89001.

[6] Watson v. Fair Political Practices Commission (1990) 217 Cal.App.3d 1059, 1074-75.

[7] Education Code sections 38130 (K-12 districts) and 82537 (community colleges).

[8] Stanson v. Mott (1976) 17 Cal.3d 206, 219.

[9] Education Code section 7053 and Government Code section 3204.

[10] Government Code section 3205.

[11] Government Code section 6254.3.

[12] Stanson v. Mott (1976) 17 Cal.3d 206 at 218.

[13] Vargas v. City of Salinas, 46 Cal.4th 1, 25 (2009)(citing Citizens to Protect Public Funds v. Board of Education, 98 A.2d 673 (1953)).

[14] Vargas v. City of Salinas 46 Cal.4th at 25.

[15] Stanson v. Mott, 17 Cal.3d 206 (citing 35 Ops. Cal. Atty. Gen 112 (1960)).

[16] Choice-in-Education League v. Los Angeles Unified School District (1993) 17 Cal.App.4th 415.

[17] Choice-in-Education League, supra, 17 Cal.App.4th at 429. See also Vargas v. City of Salinas, supra.

[18] 88 Ops. Cal. Atty. Gen. 46 (2005).

[19] Los Angeles Teachers Union, etc. v. Los Angeles City Bd. of Ed., 71 Cal.2d 551, 560 (1969); Adcock v. Board of Education, 10 Cal.3d 60, 65 (1973).

[20] Emphases added. Contributions of money, materials, and time to a political campaign are subject to the Political Reform Act, and donors and recipients must comply with certain reporting requirements.

[21] California Teachers Association v. Governing Board, 45 Cal.App.4th 1383 (1998).

[22] 84 Ops. Cal. Atty. Gen. 106 (2001).

[23] 24 PERC 31053 (2000).

[24] 29 PERC 40 (2004).

[25] CSEA v. Desert Community College District, 31 PERC 137 (2007).

Legal Update Memo No. 05-2022 – FAQ Regarding Political Activities by Local Educational Agencies, Employees, and Candidates (K-12)

Download pdf:  05-2022 – FAQ Regarding Political Activities by LEAs Employees and Candidates (EES)

As the 2022 election cycle gears up, the following Legal Update provides guidance regarding political activities for local educational agencies, employees and candidates.

AGENCY[1] Resources

Question: Can District[2] funds or supplies be used to urge support for or defeat of an upcoming ballot measure or candidate?

No. Education Code section 7054, subdivision (a) provides:

No school district or community college district funds, services, supplies, or equipment shall be used for the purpose of urging the support or defeat of any ballot measure or candidate, including, but not limited to, any candidate for election to the governing board of the district.

And, subdivision (c) imposes criminal penalties for a violation of this Section.

In addition, Government Code section 8314 provides that “[i]t is unlawful for any elected state or local officer, including any state or local appointee, employee, or consultant, to use or permit others to use public resources for a campaign activity . . . . .”

Question: May a District prohibit the use of District mailboxes to distribute campaign materials?

Yes. Under Education Code section 7054, a District may prohibit the use of campus mailboxes for distribution of materials urging the support or defeat of any ballot measure or candidate. In San Leandro Teachers Association v. Governing Board,[3] the California Supreme Court upheld a school district’s prohibition of the use of internal faculty mailboxes by the teacher’s union as a means of distributing partisan political information to its members. However, the Court noted that section 7054 does not prohibit a school board from opening up mailboxes to political endorsement literature, as long as this is done “on an equitable basis.”

Question: May the District fund a “mass mailing” that features an elected official?

No. The Political Reform Act of 1974 was intended to abolish practices that unfairly favor incumbents.[4] One means of preventing unfair advantage for an incumbent is the prohibition on use of public funds for mass mailings that “feature” the elected official. Thus, “no newsletter or other mass mailing shall be sent at public expense.”[5]

The “mass mailing” restrictions are designed to prohibit “elected officials from using public moneys to perpetuate themselves in public office.”[6]

Government Code section 89002 defines a “mass mailing” for purposes of section 89001 as follows:

(1) A tangible item delivered, by any means, to the recipient at the recipient’s residence, place of employment or business, or post office box.

(2) The item either: (A) Features an elected officer affiliated with the agency that produces or sends the mailing; [or] (B) Includes the name, office, photograph, or other reference to an elected officer affiliated with the agency that produces or sends the mailing, and is prepared or sent in cooperation, consultation, coordination, or concert with the elected officer.

(3) The costs of distribution are paid for with public money or the costs of design, production, and printing exceeding fifty dollars ($50) are paid with public moneys, and the design, production, or printing is done with the intent of sending the item other than as permitted by this section.

(4) More than 200 substantially similar items are sent in a single calendar month.

Question: May a District Foundation use privately raised funds to support a ballot campaign?

Yes, so long as no District funds, personnel or equipment are used in that effort. Certain contributions may be reportable under the Political Reform Act and the Foundation should

consult with its legal advisor as there are significant restrictions on a non-profit corporation’s ability to engage in political activity, the violation of which may result in loss of tax-exempt status.

Question: May a booster group use District facilities to help sponsor a campaign in support of a school bond measure?

Yes, with conditions. Organizations separate from the school district itself, such as employee, student, or parent organizations, may hold events and disseminate information on school grounds that advocate for or against a measure providing they receive approval to use school facilities for such purposes through the “Civic Center Act.”[7] Groups or individuals with opposing viewpoints have the same right to use school facilities under the Civic Center Act. “The First Amendment precludes the government from making public facilities available to only favored political viewpoints; once a public forum is opened, equal access must be provided to all competing factions.”[8]

Candidates/Incumbents

Question: Can incumbents send campaign e-mails from or to District e-mail addresses?

No. Candidates who have District e-mail accounts should not use those accounts to send campaign materials. However, as detailed in the next question, a candidate may use their private email account to send a mass e-mail that targets a significant segment of the public even if some of those contacted are District employees.

Incumbents are also encouraged to be aware of agency policies regarding using the symbols, or indicia of your office such as an official’s title or the agency seal. Candidates for re-election should be clear in campaign materials that use of an official title is for identification purposes only.

Question: May a candidate send letters to District employees seeking support?

Candidates should not initiate contact with District employees in an attempt to enlist their support for the campaign; these actions may cause undue pressure on the employee to engage in the political activity.

However, the candidate may send “mass mailings” that target a significant segment of the public even if some of those contacted are District employees. Mailing lists should be obtained from a public source, not from the District.

Question: May a candidate promise an employee a promotion in exchange for their support of the candidate?

No. Persons who hold office, or who are seeking election to office, may not threaten adverse consequences to District employees if they fail to support them, or promise advantages or benefits to District employees who do support them.[9]

Question: May a candidate seek political contributions from District employees?

No. Current district employees and candidates for elective office shall not solicit political contributions from other district officers or employees unless “the solicitation is part of a solicitation made to a significant segment of the public . . .” It does not matter whether the solicitation is direct or indirect.[10]

Question: May a candidate obtain from the District the home addresses of District employees to send them campaign material?

No. A candidate for the Board may not access employee home addresses from the District. They are not public records.[11] If an incumbent used his or her public position to do so, it would be a violation of Education Code section 7054.

Question: May a candidate initiate contact with parents or boosters to enlist support?

Yes. A candidate for office has the right to meet with members of the general public to enlist support. The “general public” includes parents and boosters.

Question: May a candidate address an employee group on site?

Candidates or proponents are allowed to do this only at the invitation of the employee group and only during reasonable non-working hours.

Question: May a candidate attend school events such as back to school night to enlist support?

This is allowed with certain restrictions and should be accompanied by an approved Use of School Facilities permit. The main restriction is that the presence may not interfere or disrupt the school event itself. Typically a candidate or proponent is provided a table in a lobby area to display campaign materials and to discuss campaign issues only if approached by an interested party. Candidates or proponents shall not initiate interactions with staff or participants attending the school event. Such attendance would be open to all candidates.

Question: May a candidate meet with a District official during school hours?

Yes, so long as the meeting is not disruptive, so long as the subject matter is limited to discussing school business (i.e. not campaigning), and so long as the school official is available to meet with other candidates as well.

Candidates who are seeking re-election should be aware that staff time is a District resource. As such, incumbents are encouraged to keep in mind that if you wouldn’t ask a District official for this discussion or to look into a matter if you weren’t running for re-election, it is a misuse of District resources to look into it because you are running for re-election.

Question: May the candidate seek contributions from vendors of the District?

While a private vendor has a right to make political contributions consistent with legal requirements, a candidate must be careful to avoid the appearance of “pay to play” or a quid pro quo when seeking a contribution from a vendor.

Lobbying

Question: Can a District spend public money to lobby the Legislature?

Yes. While public agency lobbying efforts undeniably involve the use of public funds to promote causes which some members of the public may not support, one of the primary functions of elected and appointed executive officials is to devise legislative proposals to attempt to implement the current administration’s policies. Because the legislative process contemplates that interested parties will attend legislative hearings to explain the potential benefits or detriments of proposed legislation, public agency lobbying, within the limits authorized by statute, in no way undermines or distorts the legislative process. By contrast, the use of the public treasury to mount an election campaign which attempts to influence the resolution of issues which our Constitution leaves to the “free election” of the people does present a serious threat to the integrity of the electoral process.[12]

Ballot Measures

Question: Can a District use District money to send an informational letter to the public about a ballot measure?

Yes.  Education Code section 7054, subdivision (b) provides:

Nothing in this section shall prohibit the use of any of the public resources described in subdivision (a) to provide information to the public about the possible effects of any bond issue or other ballot measure if both of the following conditions are met:

(1)  The informational activities are otherwise authorized by the Constitution or laws of this state.

(2)  The information provided constitutes a fair and impartial presentation of relevant facts to aid the electorate in reaching an informed judgment regarding the bond issue or ballot measure.” (Emphasis added.)

An impartial presentation of the facts will necessarily include all consequences, good and bad, of the proposal, not only the anticipated improvement in educational opportunities, but also the increased tax rate and such other less desirable consequences that may be foreseen.[13]

Question: What are some examples of “informational” materials paid for with public money that have been found to be illegal?

The line between unauthorized campaign expenditures and authorized informational activities is often unclear. “In such cases, the determination of the propriety or impropriety of the expenditure depends upon a careful consideration of such factors as the style, tenor and timing of the publication; no hard and fast rule governs every case.”[14]

  • In one case, the trustees of the Madera Union High School District spent public funds to place a full-page advertisement in a general circulation newspaper one day before a school board election. The advertisement did not expressly advocate voters to “Vote Yes” on the bond issue, but stated in large letters, “A CLASSROOM EMERGENCY EXISTS NOW AT MADERA UNION HIGH SCHOOL,” and listed a number of reasons why additional funds were needed by the school district. The Attorney General concluded that, in light of the “style, tenor and timing” of the advertisement, it was unlawful for the district to have expended public funds for the advertisement.[15

Question: Can a school board express its opinion regarding a ballot measure?

Yes. In Choice-in-Education League v. Los Angeles Unified School District,[16] the court of appeal considered whether it was proper for the school district board of trustees to announce at a public meeting, which was televised, its opposition to a proposed “choice in education” ballot initiative.  In finding that the Board’s conduct was legal, the court noted that speakers in favor of the initiative were afforded an opportunity to speak at that board meeting in accordance with the Brown Act. The fact that no one chose to speak in favor of the initiative at the meeting did not bar the Board from expressing its view on the initiative.[17]

Note:  The Board may express its opinion in a resolution, but it should refrain from telling voters how to vote.

Districts must be cautious regarding how to disseminate the Board’s opinion because section 7054 does not permit District funds to be spent to further political advocacy. However, the Board resolution could be posted on the District website in the same manner as other District resolutions.

Question: Can Districts spend public money to evaluate whether it is appropriate to propose a ballot initiative?

Yes. Because districts are authorized to place certain measures on the ballot, they may spend public money to evaluate whether to do so.

For example, the Attorney General has found that it is permissible for a community college district to spend district funds to hire a consultant for the purpose of evaluating the likelihood of the electorate’s approval of a bond measure. The express power to propose a bond measure on the ballot when the district board finds it advisable to do so implies that the board has the power to make reasonable expenditures for the purpose of gathering information in order to exercise its discretion in an informed manner.[18] The district may also submit a partisan ballot argument in favor of a bond measure.

Not all pre-campaign public expenditures, however, are permissible. For example, a district board may not spend district funds on activities that form the basis for an eventual campaign to obtain approval of a bond measure and district resources may not be used to recruit or organize supporters for a campaign or raise funds for the campaign.

District Employees: Political Activities and Expression

Question: May a public employee engage in political activities while wearing a uniform utilized in his/her public employment?

No. See Government Code section 3206.

Question: Can District employees engage in political activities during off-duty time?

Yes. Political activities are allowed during off-duty time so long as District resources are not used. No political activities are allowed during work time.

Teachers have the right to discuss with fellow teachers issues of public concern (such as cutbacks to educational funding) in faculty rooms and lunchrooms during duty-free periods.[19]

Education Code section 7056 provides:

(a)  Nothing in this article prevents an officer or employee of a local agency from soliciting or receiving political funds or contributions to promote the support or defeat a ballot measure that would affect the rate of pay, hours of work, retirement, civil service, or other working conditions of officers or employees of the local agency. These activities are prohibited during working hours. In addition, entry into buildings and grounds under the control of a local agency for such purposes during working hours is also prohibited.

(b)  Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit any recognized employee organization or its officers, agents, and representatives from soliciting or receiving political funds or contributions from employee members to promote the support or defeat of any ballot measure on school district property or community college district property during nonworking time. As used in this subdivision, “nonworking time” means time outside an employee’s working hours, whether before or after school or during the employee’s luncheon period or other scheduled work intermittency during the school day.[20]

Education Code section 7055 provides:

The governing body of each local agency may establish rules and regulations on the following:

(a)  Officers and employees engaging in political activity during working hours.

(b)  Political activities on the premises of the local agency.

Question: Can a District regulate the wearing of political buttons by employees or other political expression by employees while on duty?

Yes. A District can restrict political activities that occur during instructional activities, but not during non-instructional time, such as a lunch break.

In California Teachers Association v. Governing Board,[21] the court held that under Education Code section 7055, a school district could prohibit its employees from wearing political buttons during “instructional activities.” This case considers the interplay between section 7055’s grant of authority to regulate employee political activity and constitutional free speech guarantees.  The court concluded that these constitutional rights should be read to limit regulation of political advocacy under section 7055 to instructional settings: “Under the California Constitution, as well as the First Amendment, school authorities retain the power to dissociate themselves from political controversy by prohibiting their employees from engaging in political advocacy in instructional settings.” The court also expressly held that “as applied to non-instructional settings [the] district’s regulation is unconstitutional but that in instructional settings it may be enforced.”  See also 77 Ops. Cal. Atty. Gen 56 (1994).

Question: Can a school district prohibit teachers from wearing political buttons while attending Back to School Night, where teachers meet only with parents? 

No. “The event does not involve an instructional setting for pupils of the district. Rather, the parents are in attendance to show support for their children’s educational activities. In this setting, it need not be feared that ‘young and impressionable minds’ will be unduly influenced by teachers wearing political buttons or that the parents will believe that the teachers’ political buttons reflect the view of the district’s government board or other school officials.”[22]

Question: Can an employee be prohibited from displaying a large campaign sign on her private car in the District lot?

Yes. In one case, an employee’s vehicle displayed a two-by-eight foot sign indicating which school board candidates the union endorsed in order to influence voters in the upcoming election.  The district’s request that the sign be removed or the vehicle parked off school property was challenged as an unfair labor practice and ultimately addressed by the California Public Employment Relations Board (“PERB”). Under the circumstances of the case, PERB found the school’s actions seeking removal of either the sign or the vehicle were permissible under section 7055.[23]

Question: Can teachers wear union buttons while in the classroom?

Yes. PERB has held that school districts cannot prohibit teachers from wearing union buttons in the classroom absent “special circumstances.” One such circumstance might be “distraction,” but PERB found that the district in that case failed to establish distraction as a special circumstance justifying its ban on union buttons. In addition, the Board rejected the employer’s contention that the buttons at issue could be considered “political activity” within the meaning of Education Code section 7055.[24]

Question: May a union group conduct a meeting at a school site when one of the topics is whether to support a school board member’s candidacy?

Yes.[25]

Question: If a District employee makes a political contribution, is that reportable?

Contributions to a political campaign may be subject to reporting requirements of the Political Reform Act. There are extensive regulations on this subject available on the Fair Political Practices Commission website.

Please contact our office with questions regarding this Legal Update or any other legal matter.

 

The information in this Legal Update is provided as a summary of law and is not intended as legal advice.  Application of the law may vary depending on the particular facts and circumstances at issue.  We, therefore, recommend that you consult legal counsel to advise you on how the law applies to your specific situation.

© 2022 School and College Legal Services of California

All rights reserved.  However, SCLS grants permission to any current SCLS client to use, reproduce, and distribute this Legal Update in its entirety for the client’s own non-commercial purposes.

[1] Education Code section 7051: “Local agency” means a county superintendent of schools, an elementary, high, or unified school district, or a community college district.

[2] For purposes of this memo, “District” shall be understood to include K-12 school districts, county offices of education and community college districts.

[3] San Leandro Teachers Association v. Governing Board, 46 Cal.4th. 822 (2009).

[4] Government Code section 81002, subd. (e).

[5] Government Code section 89001.

[6] Watson v. Fair Political Practices Commission (1990) 217 Cal.App.3d 1059, 1074-75.

[7] Education Code sections 38130 (K-12 districts) and 82537 (community colleges).

[8] Stanson v. Mott (1976) 17 Cal.3d 206, 219.

[9] Education Code section 7053 and Government Code section 3204.

[10] Government Code section 3205.

[11] Government Code section 6254.3.

[12] Stanson v. Mott (1976) 17 Cal.3d 206 at 218.

[13] Vargas v. City of Salinas, 46 Cal.4th 1, 25 (2009)(citing Citizens to Protect Public Funds v. Board of Education, 98 A.2d 673 (1953)).

[14] Vargas v. City of Salinas 46 Cal.4th at 25.

[15] Stanson v. Mott, 17 Cal.3d 206 (citing 35 Ops. Cal. Atty. Gen 112 (1960)).

[16] Choice-in-Education League v. Los Angeles Unified School District (1993) 17 Cal.App.4th 415.

[17] Choice-in-Education League, supra, 17 Cal.App.4th at 429. See also Vargas v. City of Salinas, supra.

[18] 88 Ops. Cal. Atty. Gen. 46 (2005).

[19] Los Angeles Teachers Union, etc. v. Los Angeles City Bd. of Ed., 71 Cal.2d 551, 560 (1969); Adcock v. Board of Education, 10 Cal.3d 60, 65 (1973).

[20] Emphases added. Contributions of money, materials, and time to a political campaign are subject to the Political Reform Act, and donors and recipients must comply with certain reporting requirements.

[21] California Teachers Association v. Governing Board, 45 Cal.App.4th 1383 (1998).

[22] 84 Ops. Cal. Atty. Gen. 106 (2001).

[23] 24 PERC 31053 (2000).

[24] 29 PERC 40 (2004).

[25] CSEA v. Desert Community College District, 31 PERC 137 (2007).

Legal Update Memo No. 02-2022(CC) SECOND REVISED – Cal/OSHA Emergency Temporary Standards Revisions Go Into Effect January 14, 2022

Download pdf: 02-2022(CC) SECOND REVISION – Cal OSHA Adopts CDPH Isolation Criteria – Emergency Temporary Standards Revisions (JH)

*This Legal Update, formerly dated January 14, 2022 has been revised to correct a typographical error in the citation of a regulation.  No other changes have been made.

On December 16, 2021, Cal/OSHA revised the readopted the COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (“ETS”). The revised ETS incorporate the latest California Department of Public Health (“CDPH”) recommendations, take effect on January 14, 2022, and are set to expire in April 2022, unless extended. They apply to most employers including local educational agencies (“LEAs”).[1]

On December 30, 2021, and January 8, 2022, CDPH revised its recommended isolation and quarantine periods, based on CDC’s revised recommendations.[2]  In response, this week, Cal/OSHA clarified that its recommended isolation and quarantine periods in the ETS will be overridden by any CDPH applicable isolation or quarantine recommendation if the ETS periods are longer than those recommended by CDPH.[3]

CDPH revised its Frequently Asked Questions to reflect that, effective January 14, 2022, the new CDPH isolation and quarantine recommendations replace the ETS exclusion periods and return to work criteria.[4]

Continuing Cal/OSHA ETS That Remain Unchanged:

  • Employers still must have a written COVID-19 Prevention Program (“CPP”) that addresses employee exposures, policies to correct unsafe conditions, and allowing time for cleaning.
  • Employers must continue providing training to employees about COVID-19.
  • Employers are to continue to follow CDPH guidance regarding face coverings. For example, CDPH currently requests masks to be worn in all indoor public settings, regardless of vaccine status, until February 15, 2022.[5]
  • Employers must continue to notify employees, union representatives and other workers of a workplace COVID-19 exposure within one business day.

ETS revisions that go into effect on January 14, 2022:

Definition of Fully Vaccinated: Employees can now combine different COVID-19 vaccines to be considered “fully vaccinated.” For example, when an employee receives one dose of Pfizer-BioNTech and then one dose of the Moderna vaccine, the second dose needs to be received no earlier than 17 days after the first dose. In addition, the revised ETS now permit trial vaccines, subject to certain additional requirements, such as the recipient must have received the active vaccine candidate and not the placebo.[6]

Face coverings:

  • Employees who are exempt from wearing a face covering due to a health condition or disability and cannot wear a non-restrictive alternative must physically distance at least six feet from others and either be fully vaccinated or tested at least weekly for COVID-19.
  • Face coverings must have at least two layers, and not let light pass through when held up to a light source. Gaiters can now be worn, but must be doubled over to have two layers. Face coverings must fit snugly and cover the nose and mouth.
  • Employers must provide face coverings to any employee who requests them, not just to unvaccinated employees.

Testing and Exclusion:

  • After a close contact at work, employers are now required to make COVID-19 testing available at no cost and during paid time to both unvaccinated and vaccinated employees, even if asymptomatic.
  • During outbreaks, employers must make weekly testing available to all employees who were exposed, whether asymptomatic or vaccinated.
  • After a close contact, all employees must wear a face covering and maintain six feet of physical distancing for 14 calendar days, including vaccinated employees and employees recently recovered from COVID-19. Also must follow CDPH’s quarantine and isolation guidance (below).
  • In order to rely on at home test results, the test kit must be authorized by the FDA (including EUA approval), and the employer or a telehealth professional must observe the specimen collection and processing the test results.[7]

One exception to the above is that an employee who returned to work after testing positive, who subsequently has a close contact but never developed COVID-19 symptoms, does not need to be excluded from the workplace for 90 days after the first positive test. This exception only applies if these employees wear a face covering and maintain six feet of distance from others while at the workplace for 14 days following the last date of close contact.

Return to Work Criteria after a Close Contact: Cal/OSHA has clarified that employers should follow CDPH’s new quarantine and isolation recommendations,[8] that CDPH issued December 30, 2021, which Cal/OSHA officially made applicable effective January 14, 2022. If an LEA’s local health department orders a different quarantine and isolation period than CDPH, the LEA must comply with the longer of the two. Generally, the current CDPH isolation requirements are for employees who test positive and unvaccinated employees who have had a close contact at work to stay home for five days, then to return after Day 5 if they are asymptomatic and test negative on Day 5 or later, and continue to stay masked indoors at work until Day 10.  Vaccinated employees that have had a close contact at work may forego a quarantine if they are asymptomatic, test negative on Day 5, and stay masked until Day 10.

Exclusion Pay: If an employee is excluded due to a workplace exposure, they must still receive continued pay and benefits while excluded.[9] Employers may use employee’s sick leave for this purpose, but where sick leave has been exhausted, the employer must continue the employee’s pay at their regular rate.  There are two exceptions to this if:  (1) the employee received disability payments or was covered by workers’ compensation and received temporary disability; and (2) the employee did not acquire COVID-19 in the workplace.[10] Cal/OSHA has stated that employees who are able may be assigned to telework during this period (however, if an LEA does so, they should not deduct from an employee’s sick leave for days when the employee teleworks).

FAQs:  Cal-OSHA released a FAQ about the new regulations on January 7, 2022, which can be found here:  https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/coronavirus/COVID19FAQs.html#iso

Next Steps:

It is recommended that LEAs update their CPP[11] to reflect the ETS revisions.[12]

After reviewing these requirements, some accommodations provided to employees for medical or religious reasons may not be in compliance with the revised ETS.  Consider whether the interactive process must be re-engaged in with any employees, particularly to address accommodations around self-testing and face coverings.

Please contact our office with questions regarding this Legal Update or any other legal matter. 

The information in this Legal Update is provided as a summary of law and is not intended as legal advice.  Application of the law may vary depending on the particular facts and circumstances at issue.  We, therefore, recommend that you consult legal counsel to advise you on how the law applies to your specific situation. 

© 2022 School and College Legal Services of California 

All rights reserved.  However, SCLS grants permission to any current SCLS client to use, reproduce, and distribute this Legal Update in its entirety for the client’s own non-commercial purposes.

[1]  Link to text: https://www.dir.ca.gov/oshsb/documents/Dec162021-COVID-19-Prevention-Emergency-txtcourtesy-2nd-Readoption.pdf.

[2] https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/Guidance-on-Isolation-and-Quarantine-for-COVID-19-Contact-Tracing.aspx

[3] https://www.dir.ca.gov/DIRNews/2022/2022-03.html, citing to Governor Newsom Executive Order N-84-20 December 2020. (https://www.gov.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/12.14.20-EO-N-84-20-COVID-19.pdf).

[4] https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/coronavirus/COVID19FAQs.html#iso

[5]  https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/guidance-for-face-coverings.aspx.

[6]  8 CCR 3205(b)(9).

[7]  https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/dosh_publications/COVIDOnePageFS-12-16-2021.pdf.

[8]  https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/Guidance-on-Isolation-and-Quarantine-for-COVID-19-Contact-Tracing.aspx.

[9]  See 8 CCR 3205 § 3205(c)(9)(D). Note that Cal/OSHA’s “exclusion pay” should not be confused with California’s Supplemental Paid Sick Leave that required up to 80 hours of supplemental paid sick leave for various COVID-19 reasons, but expired in September 2021.

[10]   8 CCR 3205(c)(9)(D).

[11]  See Cal/OSHA, COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards: What Employers Need to Know About the Recommended Revisions (updated June 16, 2021), available at https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/dosh_publications/06-16-21-ETS-Revisions.pdf.

[12]  It is especially important to ensure your CPP is updated now that Senate Bill 606 went into effect on January 1, 2022, which gives Cal/OSHA greater enforcement authority. (See https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=202120220SB606).

Legal Update Memo No. 03-2022 SECOND REVISED – Cal/OSHA Emergency Temporary Standards Revisions Go Into Effect January 14, 2022

Download pdf: 03-2022 SECOND REVISION – Cal OSHA Adopts CDPH Isolation Criteria – Emergency Temporary Standards Revisions (JH)

*This Legal Update, formerly dated January 14, 2022 has been revised to correct a typographical error in the citation of a regulation.  No other changes have been made.

On December 16, 2021, Cal/OSHA revised the readopted the COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (“ETS”). The revised ETS incorporate the latest California Department of Public Health (“CDPH”) recommendations, take effect on January 14, 2022, and are set to expire in April 2022, unless extended. They apply to most employers including local educational agencies (“LEAs”).[1]

On December 30, 2021, and January 8, 2022, CDPH revised its recommended isolation and quarantine periods, based on CDC’s revised recommendations.[2]  In response, this week, Cal/OSHA clarified that its recommended isolation and quarantine periods in the ETS will be overridden by any CDPH applicable isolation or quarantine recommendation if the ETS periods are longer than those recommended by CDPH.[3]

CDPH revised its Frequently Asked Questions to reflect that, effective January 14, 2022, the new CDPH isolation and quarantine recommendations replace the ETS exclusion periods and return to work criteria.[4]

Continuing Cal/OSHA ETS That Remain Unchanged:

  • Employers still must have a written COVID-19 Prevention Program (“CPP”) that addresses employee exposures, policies to correct unsafe conditions, and allowing time for cleaning.
  • Employers must continue providing training to employees about COVID-19.
  • Employers are to continue to follow CDPH guidance regarding face coverings. For example, CDPH currently requests masks to be worn in all indoor public settings, regardless of vaccine status, until February 15, 2022.[5] However, schools are subject to a separate CDPH order requiring universal indoor face covering that does not have an end date at this time.[6]
  • Employers must continue to notify employees, union representatives and other workers of a workplace COVID-19 exposure within one business day.

ETS revisions that go into effect on January 14, 2022:

Definition of Fully Vaccinated: Employees can now combine different COVID-19 vaccines to be considered “fully vaccinated.” For example, when an employee receives one dose of Pfizer-BioNTech and then one dose of the Moderna vaccine, the second dose needs to be received no earlier than 17 days after the first dose. In addition, the revised ETS now permit trial vaccines, subject to certain additional requirements, such as the recipient must have received the active vaccine candidate and not the placebo.[7]

Face coverings:

  • Employees who are exempt from wearing a face covering due to a health condition or disability and cannot wear a non-restrictive alternative must physically distance at least six feet from others and either be fully vaccinated or tested at least weekly for COVID-19.
  • Face coverings must have at least two layers, and not let light pass through when held up to a light source. Gaiters can now be worn, but must be doubled over to have two layers. Face coverings must fit snugly and cover the nose and mouth.
  • Employers must provide face coverings to any employee who requests them, not just to unvaccinated employees.

Testing and Exclusion:

  • After a close contact at work, employers are now required to make COVID-19 testing available at no cost and during paid time to both unvaccinated and vaccinated employees, even if asymptomatic.
  • During outbreaks, employers must make weekly testing available to all employees who were exposed, whether asymptomatic or vaccinated.
  • After a close contact, all employees must wear a face covering and maintain six feet of physical distancing for 14 calendar days, including vaccinated employees and employees recently recovered from COVID-19. Also must follow CDPH’s quarantine and isolation guidance (below).
  • In order to rely on at home test results, the test kit must be authorized by the FDA (including EUA approval), and the employer or a telehealth professional must observe the specimen collection and processing the test results.[8]

One exception to the above is that an employee who returned to work after testing positive, who subsequently has a close contact but never developed COVID-19 symptoms, does not need to be excluded from the workplace for 90 days after the first positive test. This exception only applies if these employees wear a face covering and maintain six feet of distance from others while at the workplace for 14 days following the last date of close contact.

Return to Work Criteria after a Close Contact: Cal/OSHA has clarified that employers should follow CDPH’s new quarantine and isolation recommendations,[9] that CDPH issued December 30, 2021, which Cal/OSHA officially made applicable effective January 14, 2022. If an LEA’s local health department orders a different quarantine and isolation period than CDPH, the LEA must comply with the longer of the two. Generally, the current CDPH isolation requirements are for employees who test positive and unvaccinated employees who have had a close contact at work to stay home for five days, then to return after Day 5 if they are asymptomatic and test negative on Day 5 or later, and continue to stay masked indoors at work until Day 10.  Vaccinated employees that have had a close contact at work may forego a quarantine if they are asymptomatic, test negative on Day 5, and stay masked until Day 10.

Exclusion Pay: If an employee is excluded due to a workplace exposure, they must still receive continued pay and benefits while excluded.[10] Employers may use employee’s sick leave for this purpose, but where sick leave has been exhausted, the employer must continue the employee’s pay at their regular rate.  There are two exceptions to this if:  (1) the employee received disability payments or was covered by workers’ compensation and received temporary disability; and (2) the employee did not acquire COVID-19 in the workplace.[11] Cal/OSHA has stated that employees who are able may be assigned to telework during this period (however, if an LEA does so, they should not deduct from an employee’s sick leave for days when the employee teleworks).

FAQs:  Cal-OSHA released a FAQ about the new regulations on January 7, 2022, which can be found here:  https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/coronavirus/COVID19FAQs.html#iso

Next Steps:

It is recommended that LEAs update their CPP[12] to reflect the ETS revisions.[13]

After reviewing these requirements, some accommodations provided to employees for medical or religious reasons may not be in compliance with the revised ETS.  Consider whether the interactive process must be re-engaged in with any employees, particularly to address accommodations around self-testing and face coverings.

Please contact our office with questions regarding this Legal Update or any other legal matter.

 

The information in this Legal Update is provided as a summary of law and is not intended as legal advice.  Application of the law may vary depending on the particular facts and circumstances at issue.  We, therefore, recommend that you consult legal counsel to advise you on how the law applies to your specific situation.

© 2022 School and College Legal Services of California

All rights reserved.  However, SCLS grants permission to any current SCLS client to use, reproduce, and distribute this Legal Update in its entirety for the client’s own non-commercial purposes.

[1]  Link to text: https://www.dir.ca.gov/oshsb/documents/Dec162021-COVID-19-Prevention-Emergency-txtcourtesy-2nd-Readoption.pdf.

[2] https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/Guidance-on-Isolation-and-Quarantine-for-COVID-19-Contact-Tracing.aspx

[3] https://www.dir.ca.gov/DIRNews/2022/2022-03.html, citing to Governor Newsom Executive Order N-84-20 December 2020. (https://www.gov.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/12.14.20-EO-N-84-20-COVID-19.pdf).

[4] https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/coronavirus/COVID19FAQs.html#iso

[5]  https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/guidance-for-face-coverings.aspx.

[6]  https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/Requirement-for-Universal-Masking-Indoors-at-K-12-Schools.aspx.

[7]  8 CCR 3205(b)(9).

[8]  https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/dosh_publications/COVIDOnePageFS-12-16-2021.pdf.

[9]  https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/Guidance-on-Isolation-and-Quarantine-for-COVID-19-Contact-Tracing.aspx.

[10]  See 8 CCR 3205 § 3205(c)(9)(D). Note that Cal/OSHA’s “exclusion pay” should not be confused with California’s Supplemental Paid Sick Leave that required up to 80 hours of supplemental paid sick leave for various COVID-19 reasons, but expired in September 2021.

[11]   8 CCR 3205(c)(9)(D).

[12]  See Cal/OSHA, COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards: What Employers Need to Know About the Recommended Revisions (updated June 16, 2021), available at https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/dosh_publications/06-16-21-ETS-Revisions.pdf.

[13]  It is especially important to ensure your CPP is updated now that Senate Bill 606 went into effect on January 1, 2022, which gives Cal/OSHA greater enforcement authority. (See https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=202120220SB606).