Dental professionals are among the eligible workers who will gain legal protections next year thanks to a law that bars employers from retaliatory behavior toward workers impacted by an emergency during their shift. Workers who do not show up to work, or refuse to stay on-site, during an emergency situation are protected if they have reasonable concerns about their safety or they are subject to an evacuation at their home, workplace or child’s school.

The emergency workplace law, SB 1044, will go into effect in January 2023. It also protects workers from employers who limit their access to cell phones and other communications devices during work hours. Employers cannot prevent staff from using their communications devices during emergencies to seek help or check on conditions and the well-being of others.

The law determines that an eligible emergency condition is a disaster or dangerous situation brought upon by nature or criminal action that puts a person’s safety at risk. For example, a California wildfire would qualify under the new law. An evacuation during a wildfire emergency also triggers the employee workplace safety law. However, a health pandemic does not qualify.

Simply stated, employees who feel unsafe at their workplace will be protected during an eligible emergency. Given a reasonable belief of the risks of death or serious injury and the circumstances known to them, California says that is enough to enshrine enhanced employee protections during times of crisis. Once the emergency conditions end, employee protection is no longer in effect.

Dental offices can get ahead of the new workplace regulations by updating their absence policy, so it aligns with employee protections. Policies should state when exceptions to attendance will be granted per the new emergency guidelines.

If you need any guidance about this topic we are here for you. Our team offers everything from performance coaching, to case acceptance training, to OSHA and HIPAA compliance training. We know your practice is successful if your team is succeeding daily. We want your operations to run as smoothly as possible and can help you make that happen!

For any questions you have about the new workplace protections law or other employee regulations, don’t hesitate to contact us today. Our team is passionate about dentistry and your practice’s success.

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