The State Worker

The power’s out in Northern California, and state workers could be sent home

California state departments affected by widespread power outages may instruct workers to work from home, take administrative time off or make other special arrangements during widespread power outages, according to CalHR.

PG&E shut off power for about 500,000 customers early Wednesday, and was planning more shutoffs amid high winds and dry fire conditions. The winds are expected to last through Thursday. Southern California Edison said about 100,000 of its customers could face power cuts in the southern part of the state.

Most of the state workforce is based in Sacramento, which is unaffected by the outages. Departments with customer-facing offices around the state, such as the Department of Motor Vehicles, are more affected.

“CalHR and state departments and agencies are monitoring the situation and providing support, and flexibility, for state workers,” CalHR spokesman Andrew Lamar said in an email.

The governor’s office was working on compiling a list of affected state offices Wednesday.

“The goal is to keep state government as functional as possible because there is a great need to provide services to other people who are affected,” said Brian Ferguson, a governor’s office spokesman.

During governor-declared emergencies, state law gives certain affected employees five days of administrative time off. Gov. Gavin Newsom and past governors have authorized additional time during emergencies including fires and earthquakes.

The outage isn’t a governor-declared emergency, so those provisions don’t apply.

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Wes Venteicher anchors The Bee’s popular State Worker coverage in the newspaper’s Capitol Bureau. He covers taxes, pensions, unions, state spending and California government. A Montana native, he reported on health care and politics in Chicago and Pittsburgh before joining The Bee in 2018.