LOS ANGELES, Calif. — To preserve the rights and health protections for low-wage workers that were enacted through the COVID-19 emergency health officer order, today, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a motion authored by Chair Holly J. Mitchell, and co-authored by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, to ensure the County’s Public Health Council Program continues once the local emergency order ends and that the program expands to cover all workers and broader public health protections and emergencies.
“We know that low-wage workers are more susceptible to facing poor working conditions that violate their health and rights and that those conditions often worsen in the face of a pandemic. The success of the Public Health Councils Program has proven how essential this platform is for protecting residents. Access to information about critical Health Officer Orders, workers understanding how to report violations and protect themselves, and true safeguards to prevent retaliation against whistleblowers must continue and is a necessity for equity in the workforce” said Chair Mitchell, representing the Second Supervisorial District.
“During the pandemic we saw that when health guidelines were conscientiously implemented, lives were saved. Employees can be very helpful in ensuring compliance with the protocols that keep County residents safe and healthy. Today’s motion institutionalizes the County’s use of public health councils, a COVID-19 innovation, and will protect employees from retaliation when they flag lapses in compliance” said Supervisor Kuehl, representing the Third Supervisorial District.
In November 2020, the Board of Supervisors established the County’s Public Health Councils (PHC) Programs – the first in the nation – to address inequities created by COVID-19 for low-wage workers and increase compliance with Health Officer Orders (HOO) by establishing a mechanism for at-risk workers across the County to report HOO violations. Led by the Department of Public Health, 59 Public Health Councils were formed, reaching over 13,000 workers, and providing 1,500 employers with COVID-19 outreach and education.
To read the full motion, click here.