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Return to Work Checklist for California Employers

  • Human Resources
  • Article
  • 6 min. Read
  • Last Updated: 05/27/2020

california return to work considerations
A checklist for considerations California employers to review while preparing to bring employees back to work after the Coronavirus pandemic.

Table of Contents

Considerations for California Employers While Preparing to Bring Employees Back to Work

This is not an exhaustive list. It is an addendum to the Paychex Return to Work Checklist. Employers should consult with their HR professionals, legal counsel where appropriate, and California’s Labor and Workforce Development Agency and COVID-19 websites.

☑ Guidance on re-opening businesses

This impacts employers seeking loan forgiveness for their Paycheck Protection Program loan.


☑ What date should employees be recalled or rehired?

This impacts employers seeking loan forgiveness for their Paycheck Protection Program loan.


☑ Know how to address any changes that have been made to federal, state, or local paid leave laws

Familiarize yourself with the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to be prepared if employees are unable to return or need to take time off after returning.


☑ Understand the obligations under a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) if you have unionized employees

Check CBA for rehire/recall language, including agreed upon factors in order to bring employees back. Most changes will need to be negotiated with the union.


☑ If an employee was terminated and signed a separation agreement, check the language to see if the rehire requires an amendment to the separation agreement


☑ Consider providing letter offering return to work or re-hire to employees


☑ Review and adhere to internal policies on rehiring to determine any reinstatement of accrued PTO or vacation time


☑ Provide a new Form W-4 in case the employee wants to make changes upon returning to work


☑ Ensure “new hire” employee documents (i.e. employee handbook, arbitration agreement, etc.) are updated and properly executed


☑ Does the employee need to update an existing Form I-9 or complete a new Form I-9?

Review and compliance requirements for Form I-9.


☑ Did employee elect COBRA, State Continuation, or other health insurance conversion rights?


☑ Determine status of health plans, cafeteria plans, and other fringe benefit plans, such as vision and dental insurance


☑ Determine implications for 401(k), 403(b), and pension plans

Of note, California businesses with more than 100 employees need to implement a retirement plan by Sept. 30, 2020 to be compliant with the state-mandated program, CalSavers.


☑ Evaluate executive compensation and severance arrangements


☑ Consider appropriate actions related to COVID-19 health pandemic

Learn what new supplemental policies on safety are recommended or required to be followed and documented. For example, what measures to promote social distancing in the workplace and safety equipment such as masks and gloves will be provided.

Additional considerations as you prepare to return employees to work include applicable wage and hour laws, especially if employees have different work schedules, pay, and classification under state and federal laws.


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* This content is for educational purposes only, is not intended to provide specific legal advice, and should not be used as a substitute for the legal advice of a qualified attorney or other professional. The information may not reflect the most current legal developments, may be changed without notice and is not guaranteed to be complete, correct, or up-to-date.

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