Irvine, Calif., Boasts New Protections for Hotel Workers

By John A. Mavros © Fisher Phillips November 18, 2022
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​In what some may consider an unexpected development, the City of Irvine, Calif., is set to implement a new ordinance that will require Irvine hotels to follow stringent workplace safety rules for their employees.

The ordinance parallels the hotel worker protection ordinances already passed by other cities, such as Los Angeles and West Hollywood. On Oct. 25, the Irvine City Council passed its first reading of the Hotel Worker Protection Ordinance, which requires hotels to provide personal security devices to their workers and adhere to specific workload limitations for room attendants, among other things. Although the ordinance is subject to a second reading before it becomes effective, Irvine hotels should prepare as soon as possible. If and when the ordinance is passed, certain components will go into effect within 30 days.

Personal Security Devices and Security Guards

Under the ordinance, hotels must provide workers with a personal security device (PSD) to be used if the hotel worker's safety is at risk. The hotel must train workers on how to use and maintain the PSD by 30 days after the ordinance's effective date or within one month of the worker's date of hire. Importantly, if a hotel has 60 or more guest rooms, then the PSD training must be in English and in each language the hotel knows to be spoken by 10 percent or more of its workforce.

Hotels are required to enlist a designated and assigned security guard, who can receive alerts from a worker's PSD to subsequently provide on-site assistance. If a hotel has fewer than 60 guest rooms, the hotel may have a supervisor or manager take on the security guard role, as long as they are properly trained.

If a hotel worker reports violent or threatening conduct, the ordinance requires hotels to provide reasonable accommodations for the employee. This could include a modified work schedule and paid time off to report incidents to law enforcement or consult with a counselor or advisor.

Hotels must place specific signage on the back of each guest room and restroom entrance door in no less than 18-point font, stating, "The law protects hotel workers from threatening behavior." It should include the relevant chapter of Irvine Municipal Code and indicate to guests that hotel workers carry personal security devices.

Workload Limitations and Recordkeeping Requirements

Irvine hotels must limit workloads for room attendants based on square footage. The ordinance imposes maximum room cleaning quotas, depending on the size of the hotel itself. These square footage quotas can change and are highly specific.

The ordinance also imposes a three-year recordkeeping obligation, which requires employers to maintain records that identify the rooms cleaned, the square footage of each room cleaned, and the total square footage cleaned for each workday. Smaller hotels with fewer than 45 rooms are not subject to these room attendant workload limitations.

The ordinance states that a hotel worker may not work more than 10 hours in a workday, unless that employee gives written consent to do so. The consent document must include language stating that the employee will not suffer any retaliation for refusing to work more than 10 hours in a workday.

Another change for many Irvine hotels is the ordinance's elimination any hotel program or policy that would allow for a guest room not to be cleaned and sanitized after each night it is occupied. In other words, hotel rooms must be cleaned every day. However, if a guest opts out of such service without solicitation by the hotel, or informs the hotel that they do not wish to be disturbed, then the hotel does not have to clean the room after each night it is occupied.

To ensure that hotel workers understand their new rights, the ordinance requires hotels to provide written notice of their rights under the new ordinance either at the time of hire or within 30 days of the ordinance's effective date, whichever is later.

Steps Employers Should Take

Hotel employers within Irvine's city limits should evaluate their policies and procedures and take the following actions immediately:

  • Obtain personal security devices.
  • Keep records to demonstrate attendance at training sessions.
  • Eliminate any policy or program that solicits guests to opt out of daily room cleaning.
  • Prepare and post the necessary guest room and restroom signage.
  • Develop tools to calculate square footage quotas for room attendants.
  • Track room attendant and room cleaning information. Maintain records for three years.
  • Adjust paid time off policies to account for new workers' rights.
  • Prepare notices of rights and voluntary overtime written consent forms.

John A. Mavros is an attorney with Fisher Phillips in Irvine, Calif. © 2022. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission. 

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