restaurant workers

Washington, D.C. law reinstates restaurant workers laid off in pandemic

Washington D.C. continues to be progressive in its aims to combat the dire effects of COVID-19 on restaurant workers and employees in other high-value industries.

Many employees across North America have been furloughed, displaced, or laid off indefinitely or permanently due to the economic impact of the pandemic. Some nature of support for these workers exists in virtually every jurisdiction, but the U.S. capital is taking things one step further.

A law passed last month and set to take effect later this month or in March will reinstate displaced local employees, including restaurant workers, as their former positions begin to become available again.

The Displaced Workers Right to Reinstatement and Retention Amendment Act of 2020 affects in-house and contract employees in a variety of industries including retail, hospitality,  and restaurant facilities in the Washington, D.C. area.

It states that employers and contractors “must offer employees displaced by COVID-19 reinstatement to their previous positions or to a substantially similar position as positions become available.”

The law also stipulates that the only employees eligible for this right are those whose work at the relevant establishment or contractor was derailed due to COVID-19. In essence, the aim of this is to ensure that workers who were laid off through no fault of their own and due directly to the effects of the pandemic will be provided with an avenue to return to the work which is no doubt vital to their livelihoods.

For all relevant workers except hotel staff, the last date of employment must be between March 1, 2020, and the final day of the public health emergency order.

The law will be in effect for the foreseeable future, too, only expiring on June 30, 2023.

This follows another move by Washington D.C. a few weeks ago, when Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that workers including restaurant employees in the area should start receiving COVID-19 vaccines around Feb. 1.