The COVID-19 pandemic hit California’s tourism industry hard. Many employees who worked in California hotels, convention centers and airports lost their jobs last spring and summer during long state shutdown orders and because tourists opted to stay home.
Now, a new California law will require some of these employers to rehire workers laid off in the pandemic, before offering jobs to new employees. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the legislation on April 16. Employers must offer laid-off workers similar positions or the same positions they held before they lost their jobs. Employees must have worked for their employers for six months before Jan. 1, 2020, to qualify for rehiring.
Employers must allow laid-off workers five business days to respond to a rehiring request. Only if employees decline to take back their jobs or don’t respond can employers hire a new employee. Employers who must comply with this new law include businesses in the following sectors:
- Airport hospitality operations and service providers (including food and beverage providers, cleaning services, ticketing and check-in functions, ground-handling of aircraft and security)
- Event centers (including public performance centers, sporting venues, concert halls, convention centers and racetracks)
- Building services (including janitorial, building maintenance and security services)
- Hotels and private clubs
Union and labor advocates pushed for the bill. Newsom declined to sign a similar bill last year. California Hotel & Lodging Association was disappointed the bill now is law. It felt employers need more flexibility to hire new workers more quickly.
California’s hospitality and tourism industry already is showing signs of recovery as vaccinations and restrictions lift. The hospitality industry added more than 42,000 jobs in March.
With summer quickly approaching, many state economists expect more hospitality and tourism businesses to be seeking workers as people take long-awaited vacations to popular California vacation spots.