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Who Is an Essential Worker in California?

In March, Governor Gavin Newsom issued a stay-at-home order and temporarily closed all non-essential businesses to help stop the spread of COVID-19. This caused major confusion for many businesses and their employees as it was not immediately clear who was and who was not considered essential.

Newsom released a comprehensive 14-page list of workers to clarify his order which included 13 general industry categories and specific jobs within them. These “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” may report to work throughout the COVID-19 crisis because the services they provide are vital to keeping communities safe and healthy, supporting the production of necessary goods and supply chains, and fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

Healthcare and Public Health: This is a broad category and rightfully so as healthcare and support workers are taking on more than ever. This includes:

  • Physicians
  • Nurses
  • Therapists
  • Aides
  • Administrative staff in medical facilities
  • Environmental services in medical facilities
  • Medical technology, equipment and supply production and associated distribution of these goods

Emergency Services: This category includes first responders and those who maintain public infrastructure, safety and the operation of homes and businesses

  • Law enforcement
  • Emergency medical technicians
  • Public works workers
  • Waste management
  • Firefighters
  • Plumbers
  • Electricians
  • HVAC professionals.

Food and Agriculture: Another broad category, food and agriculture workers include those that serve, sell, produce, and distribute food and drink and farming operations, including:

  • Grocery and convenience store employees
  • Cooks
  • Waitstaff in restaurants that serve takeout food
  • Farmworkers
  • Cannabis retailers
  • Truck drivers and stockers
  • Delivery workers

Transportation and Logistics: This includes workers in seven subsectors: aviation, highways, maritime, mass transit, pipeline, freight rail and postal and shipping such as:

  • Delivery drivers (for both public and private companies)
  • Mail delivery
  • Pilots
  • Air traffic controllers
  • Truckers
  • Toll booth operators
  • Maintenance workers

Communications and Information Technology: This sector encompasses all the physical equipment, virtual systems and network operations required to keep communication infrastructure running. It includes:

  • IT professionals
  • Customer service workers
  • Journalists and reporters
  • Installation and service technicians
  • Support staff at communications and IT operations

Other Community-Based Government Operations and Essential Functions: This includes both agency and private workers who perform a wide range of critical everyday services such as:

  • Teachers
  • Childcare providers
  • County assistance office workers
  • Social workers
  • Court workers
  • Construction/building professionals
  • Retail workers in stores that sell essential goods
  • Animal caretakers

Critical Manufacturing: This category covers those with various responsibilities within the manufacture and distribution of critical goods and materials including metals, machinery, electrical equipment, appliances and components for making critical goods.

Defense Industrial Base: This includes all private and public entities related to the United States military and national security operations.

Financial Services: This category includes workers in financial systems of all sizes, such as:

  • Bank tellers
  • Insurance providers
  • Armored truck drivers
  • Payment processing services

Hazardous Materials: This includes workers who manage waste and other dangerous materials, like:

  • Nuclear facility workers
  • Medical waste workers
  • Hazardous material cleaning professionals
  • Truckers who transport hazardous materials

Energy: This comprises all forms of energy production, electricity, petroleum and natural gas industries and the workers within them.

Water and Wastewater: This includes operational staff for water supply and wastewater treatment systems and facilities.

Chemicals: This includes jobs in all manners of production and distribution of basic, specialty agricultural chemicals, pharmaceuticals and consumer products.

To read the complete list of essential workers, see here.

Strong Advocates is committed to protecting the safety and health of essential workers in the Los Angeles area during the COVID-19 crisis. Please contact us for a free, confidential consultation if you have any questions.

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