After many people in Los Angeles County have been unable to work due to stay-at-home orders issued by the government in the face of the COVID-19 health pandemic nearly three months ago, the County has issued a series of protocols to help prepare various industries for a measured return to work.  Among those protocols is the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health Reopening Protocol for Music, Television and Film Production (the “Order”).

The Order took effect on June 12, 2020 and requires worksite employers that operate in Los Angeles, including production companies of all sizes, to undertake a myriad of safety measures summarized below to protect their employees from the risk of contracting COVID-19 at the workplace.

Safety OfficerEmployers must designate a workplace COVID-19 Compliance Officer (C19CO) who will be tasked with establishing and enforcing COVID-19 safety protocols, training staff on protocols, and monitoring such compliance.  The C19CO must be on-site whenever possible when production work is performed.

Testing:  Significantly, the Order requires that an employer conduct regular and periodic testing of cast and crew on productions to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19, particularly for cast and crew that are involved in high-risk scenes that require close contact without cloth-face coverings for extended periods of time;  although, the Order considers that testing “may not be feasible for one-time productions operating under a very short filming schedule,” such as commercials.

Symptom/Temperature Checks:  Employers must conduct symptom checks before employees may enter the workplace, and a temperature check should be done at the worksite “if feasible.”

Distancing:  The Order imposes a series of requirements that would eliminate close physical contact between cast, crew, and performers as much as possible, including requiring that workstations be separated by at least six feet, and that breaks be staggered to ensure six-foot distance in breakrooms and common areas, such as background cast members’ waiting rooms.

PPE:  Employers must provide all personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies that will be necessary at the production site.

Disinfection:  Breakrooms, restrooms, common areas, as well as shared clothing and wigs/shared prosthetics must be frequently cleaned and/or sanitized and on a set schedule where applicable.

Additional Requirements:  The Order contains a number of other requirements, which include that the employer develop a plan for responding to learning that an employee has tested positive for, or has symptoms consistent with COVID-19, and that the employer reconfigure work processes for crew to the extent possible to increase work-from-home opportunities.  Employers must also distribute the Order to each employee.

EP is closely monitoring Los Angeles County’s various orders and will update our website with any material developments.  Production employers should also bear in mind that, in addition to government-issued COVID-19 return-to-work orders, labor and industry are negotiating COVID-19 safety considerations for return to production that would impact unionized productions and may exceed government minimum requirements for reopening production.

Employers are all advised to consult with their labor and employment attorneys to determine how and whether the Order would impose new obligations at your worksite.

For any questions about this alert, you may contact:

Pantea Lili Ahmadi, Senior Corporate & Employment Counsel

Alan Wu, Director, Employment & Labor Relations Counsel

Scott Bishop, Vice-President, Employment Law

Joseph Scudiero, Senior Vice-President & Chief Labor Counsel