Original Source: Dickenson, Peatman & Fogarty - Links are to CA EDD.
In light of the devastating fires in Napa and Sonoma Counties, employers should be aware of some available resources and other obligations required by law. Below is information regarding available benefits, employee pay, leaves, and other information Napa and Sonoma County employers may find useful.
Napa County’s Local Assistance Center (LAC) is open from now until October 27. There are a multitude of services and agencies represented to offer disaster assistance and recovery support. This link to the LAC website shows a list of services as well as a map to the location. The website can also be displayed in Spanish.
Napa County Health and Human Services
Building A, Conference Center
2751 Napa Valley Corporate Drive, Napa CA 94559
Monday – Friday, 9am to 7pm
Saturday – Sunday, 10am to 5pm
Online filing for Federal Disaster Assistance is also available in English or Spanish.
Additionally, here are links to County Health Support Services and other local Non-Profit Agencies that are helping our community recover. From rent assistance to stress reduction, these agencies and their staffs and volunteers are doing great work.
1. Disaster Unemployment Assistance
A Major Disaster Declaration was approved by President Trump as of October 10, 2017. This means that employees unable to work due to the fires can apply for Disaster Unemployment Assistance. This benefit is available for up to 26 weeks for employees impacted. More information can be found here.
If there will be no work for more than two weeks, then employees should submit an ordinary application for unemployment benefits rather than a partial claim.
Employers unable to furnish work to employees due to a natural disaster are not obligated to pay non-exempt employees. However, exempt employees still must be paid their full salary for weeks in which any work is furnished. If no work is furnished or completed by the exempt employee for a full workweek, then the employer does not have to pay the full weekly salary to those employees.
Unless an employee requires leave due to qualifying physical or mental injuries and illnesses or disabilities, to the employee or certain family members, there are no leave obligations for employers.
In light of the devastation of the Napa and Sonoma fires, employers may choose to exceed their obligations under the law by permitting employees to take leave paid or unpaid, and/or use leave banks despite no serious health condition impacting the employee or certain eligible family members. This leave can be granted for employees impacted by the disaster to rebuild or for those volunteering to assist in disaster relief efforts.
4. Provide a Safe Workplace
Employers remain obligated to furnish a safe and healthful place of employment and may not require or permit an employee to be in any place of employment that is not safe and healthful. Employers open during the fires and its aftermath should provide appropriate protective equipment, such as respirator masks, to employees to ensure their safety.
5. Emergency Action Plan
The need for an emergency action plan is highlighted in times of disaster, and it is required by law to be a part of the Injury and Illness Prevention Program. Employers with 10 or more employees must have the emergency action plan in writing. Cal OSHA has guidance on developing this plan on here.
6. Payroll Tax Extension
Employers can request an extension of up to 60 days to file state payroll reports and/or deposit state payroll taxes. A written request for the extension must be received within 60 days of the original delinquent date of the payment or return.
7. Reconstruct Payroll Records
Employers that lost payroll records due to the fire should reconstruct the records in order to file quarterly and/or yearly payroll tax reports. Employers can make reasonable estimates based upon the best information available, and the EDD can provide copies of previous reports on which to base the estimates.