Now that California employers have their Workplace Violence Prevention Plans (WVPP) in place (as of July 1) some grey areas have come up that warrant awareness and discussion.

  • Some employers have had the foresight to create a Dedicated Workplace Violence Hotline (with the help of IT staff), in advance of July 1 and were able to insert the number in their WVPP and training materials. This would satisfy the requirement under CA Labor Code Section 6401.9(c)(2)(F) of identifying procedures and having a system for an employee to inform/report hazards at the worksite or workplace violence concerns (and ensure employees are not apprehensive about reporting concerns or threats) without fear of reprisal. Employers may want to consider a dedicated hotline or repository for complaints so that line managers are not fielding employee concerns directly.
  • The regulation requires employers to provide effective training and ensure that the training materials are easy to understand and match the workers’ education, reading skills, and language of employees. Use best efforts to make sure employees understand the WVPP and training.  Consider an interpreter during training sessions if you are unable to roll out your training in the employee’s primary language on time.
  • Employers are required to ensure that their written WVPP is specific to the hazards and corrective measures for each work area and operation. If the employer has multiple worksites, it may use the same WVPP for all sites as long as it contains specific hazards and corrective measures found at all sites.  If the employer has offices and warehouses, for example, different hazards may exist and must be identified, assessed, and evaluated within the WVPP.
  • What happens when an employer has non-employee workers from staffing agencies? What are the responsibilities of the staffing agency and host employer? Are they covered by the WVPP of the host employer? Yes – both the staffing agency (primary employer) and the secondary employer (where working) could be cited so ensure appropriate training, communication and coordination between the two employers.  See https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/dosh_publications/WPV-General-Industry-for-workers-fs.pdf for more guidance.
  • Clients have asked if there are benefits to having the written WVPP within the company’s Injury Illness Prevention Plan (IIPP) or whether it should be maintained as a stand-alone document? Because the IIPP has so many other topics to cover, keeping the WVPP as a separate living document seems more specific and manageable. 
  • What if you are a CA employer with more than 10 employees, but they are all remote?  Do you need a WVPP? No – Teleworking is not under the control of the employer.
  • For small employers with under 10 employees, no WVPP is needed if the office contains restricted access. If the place of employment has a reception area, conference room(s), kitchen, but keypad access only in and out of the offices, and less than 10 employees -no WVPP may be needed.  The key here is keypad access only i.e., not accessible and less than 10 employees. A good rule of thumb is if not even UPS of Federal Express can enter, it’s safe to assume the place of employment is not open to the public.
  • How can the employer make sure the WVPP is accessible to employees? This may depend on the nature of the workplace. The employer can have the plan available in common areas, in a binder, or on their company website, all of which are listed in FAQ’s about Workplace Violence Prevention in General Industry (Non-Health Care settings) https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/Workplace-Violence/FAQ.html  The WVPP needs to be available and readily accesible to the following people:  employees, authorized employee representatives, and representatives of Cal/OSHA at all times. 
  • In terms of recordkeeping, keep in mind different records have different retention requirements. (e.g., a minimum of one year for training records; a minimum of five years for records of workplace violence hazard identification, evaluation, and correction (i.e., workplace violence hazard assessments and inspections); violent incident logs; and workplace violence incident investigations).  Remember employers must omit any element of personal identifying information sufficient to allow identification of any person involved in a violence incident.  Consider two binders with one kept in HR and the other in a common area with redacted information, especially where incidents of sexual assault may have occurred.  Make sure binder doesn’t get lost. 

The above is just a sample of potential scenarios that have come up so far.  We will continue to provide updates as employers roll out their WVPP and other issues develop. If you have questions or we may assist with this or other employment law challenges, please contact your Fox Rothschild LLP attorney or the authors.