Senator Durazo Introduces Legislation to Protect Workers During Natural Disasters

Wednesday, March 02, 2022

Senator Durazo has introduced SB 1044, which aims to protect workers during natural disasters by requiring clear requirements and procedures for employers to uphold. 

“The ability to keep yourself safe on the job, and especially so in life or death situations, should be a given, but many workers are subjected to what is essentially confinement at their jobs during natural disasters,” said Senator Durazo. “SB 1044 will make sure that these workers can look out for their own safety while not having to fear losing their job as a consequence.”

SB 1044 would enhance existing workers’ protections during natural disasters by providing clear requirements for employers during these emergencies. Specifically, SB 1044 would require employers to allow workers to have access to their phones during working hours and that they be permitted to leave work in order to ensure their own safety.

On several occasions over the last several years, vulnerable workers have been forced to continue working in the midst of a natural disaster that threatened their wellbeing. Agricultural employers in Sonoma County required workers to keep collecting produce in the midst of the Atlas and Tubbs Fires. Among the 23 lost and 167 injured in the 2018 Southern California mudflows were gardeners and housekeepers at work. During the 2019 Getty fire, domestic workers and landscapers continued to work, telling emergency personnel they could not leave until their work was finished.

The bill has been referred to the California Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee, where it is expected to be heard in the coming weeks. 

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