How do "right to recall" laws impact hiring?

How do "right to recall" laws impact hiring?

Good news – the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be waning, and our economy is re-opening. Employees are being hired, but for some businesses in some industries, there are new requirements in place which were not there at the start of the pandemic. I’m talking about “right to recall” laws.

Now, these laws typically provide that employees who were laid off due to the pandemic have a priority right to be offered their former jobs, before someone from the outside is hired. Generally, the most senior qualified laid off employee has a right to be recalled first.

These laws don’t apply everywhere – but they do apply in many cities in California, several cities across the country, and the state of California as a whole.

  • Carlsbad
  • County of Los Angeles
  • Glendale
  • Long Beach
  • Los Angeles City
  • Monterey County
  • Oakland
  • Pasadena
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • Santa Clara
  • Santa Monica
  • Baltimore
  • Minneapolis
  • New Haven
  • New York City
  • Philadelphia
  • Washington, D.C.
  • State of California

And they don’t apply to all businesses – only to a specified list of industries, including hospitality, commercial building services – janitorial, maintenance, security, as well as airports and event centers.

  • Hotels
  • Private clubs
  • Event centers
  • Airport hospitality operations
  • Airport service providers
  • Commercial building janitorial, building maintenance, or security services

Laid off employees must also be “qualified.” That usually means that they must have worked in the same, or a similar job before being laid off, or can be trained to do the job with the same training as would be provided to a newly-hired employee.

The tricky thing is that there are differences in each of these laws, so an employer with operations in more than one location may have different obligations, depending on which ordinance applies.

But, perhaps in a nod to the hope that COVID-19 pandemic will not be with us indefinitely, these laws typically have a sunset date. For example, the California law is in effect only until December 31, 2024.

Covered employers should carefully check their obligations before establishing any new positions in a location that has adopted a right to recall law.

For additional information on COVID-19 and the workplace, please visit and continue to refer to local, state, and federal authorities for the most current information.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.