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Oakland December 16, 2020 – In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the heightened demand for products and services during the winter holiday season, the California Labor & Workforce Development Agency (LWDA) and its Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) encourage employees and employers to learn more about worker safety and rights, and employer responsibilities.

Each year, workers in warehouses, retail establishments, food processing plants and more are hired during the holiday season due to increased demands for products and services. These workers may not know or understand their rights, and their employers may not be aware of their responsibilities, placing workers, employers and the public-at-large at greater risk for COVID-19 exposure.

“Our goal is to reach workers who are more vulnerable to COVID-19 exposure and need information about their rights in the workplace, including paid sick leave benefits and how to report unsafe conditions,” said DIR Director Katie Hagen. “We also want employers to understand their responsibilities to comply with state labor laws and ensure a safe and healthful workplace.”

LWDA and DIR are addressing these concerns with a public education campaign in English and Spanish that focuses on high-risk industries for the holiday season, including manufacturing, warehouse and fulfillment centers, retail and food services, agricultural, food processing and meat packing, with detailed information on resources and benefits available on www.dir.ca.gov/COVID.

The campaign is particularly focused on low-wage workers of color who face a higher risk of exposure to the virus. According to a recent UC Berkeley Labor Center analysis, low-wage workers are less likely to be able to work remotely, and women – in particular Black and Latina women – are more likely to have very close proximity to others on the job, which puts them at higher risk. This underscores the importance of highlighting workers’ rights and employers’ responsibilities in key industries and regions across California. 

Following the winter holiday season, LWDA and DIR will continue to provide information on the rights of all workers to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.

The California Department of Industrial Relations, established in 1927, protects and improves the health, safety, and economic well-being of over 18 million wage earners, and helps their employers comply with state labor laws. DIR is housed within the Labor & Workforce Development Agency. LWDA is an executive branch agency that oversees seven departments, boards and panels that serve California businesses and workers.