SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Hotels will need to provide maids and other workers with panic buttons if a proposed bill becomes law.

Assembly Bill 1761 would require hotel workers to have panic buttons when they enter guest rooms alone. The button, which would be free, would allow the worker to call for help if he or she is in danger, witnesses a crime, or observes an emergency.

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Employees who are the victims of violent or sexual assault, or sexual harassment, would also get paid time off in order to file a police report, get medical and mental help, and contact an attorney.

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AB 1761 would also require hotels to create protocols and training for how staff, security, and management should respond if the panic button is pushed.

Notices would go on the back of guest room doors advising them of this new law.

The County of Sacramento passed the Hotel Worker Protection Act of 2018 earlier this year. It requires hotels and motels with more than 25 rooms to provide staff with panic or notification buttons. During the Board of Supervisors debate, Supervisor Phil Serna shared a Chicago survey that said 58 percent of women who work in hotels had been sexually harassed or assaulted.

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Similar policies also passed in Chicago and Seattle.

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The California Hotel and Lodging Association opposes AB 1761, arguing: a “mandate requiring panic buttons for all employees working alone in guest rooms could require complex technological solutions for implementing these devices that are vast and in a nascent stage of development. ”

The California Chamber of Commerce and a coalition of other agencies also oppose the bill unless several amendments are made, including: deleting the requirement that hotels post the policy on the back of guest room doors, giving employees unpaid time instead of paid time off in case of an assault, and limiting the duration of reasonable accommodations to hotel workers who have been harassed to the time in which the perpetrating guest remains on the premises.

AB 1761 passed the Assembly in late May by a vote of 48-18 (12 Assemblymembers did not vote.) It will be heard by the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee Wednesday morning.

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