An ordinance to require panic buttons for hotel staff has passed through a Sacramento City Council committee and will likely go to the full council after the new year.
The Sacramento City Council Law and Legislation Committee unanimously approved the ordinance Tuesday. It would require hotels provide panic buttons to any employee who cleans guest rooms or restrooms in any of the city's 80 hotels.
Panic buttons are designed to allow an employee to call for help when confronted with a physical or sexual assault or other emergency.
Consuelo Hernandez is director of government affairs for the city, and says the new law would require the devices be available to every shift.
"It's my understanding that most of these you can check in, check out. It's something that the employee can carry with them," Hernandez said.
According to a study by the union Unite Here Local 1 out of Chicago, 49 percent of housekeepers have seen hotel guests intentionally expose themselves.
Unite Here Local 49 applauded the vote.
”Too many housekeepers have to worry every day about inappropriate guest behavior that could be lurking behind any hotel room door,” said President Chris Rak. “We’re glad the city of Sacramento is taking steps to make these jobs safer.”
Council member Eric Guerra says hotel owners actually recommended a tougher law.
“Even when we were pushing for this to be only for the large hotels,they said, no, we believe everyone in the industry should be part of this,” Guerra told the committee. “I think that goes to show that we all want a safe place not only for our guests, but for our workers."
Some city hotels already have panic buttons, according to the Sacramento Hotel Association.
Even though some businesses already have systems in place, Teresa Stephenson, the executive director of the association, said it would appreciate the city allowing six months to implement the new law.
“There are a number of factors involved in program implementation – employee training, brand standards, and policies and procedures,” she said.
According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, 5,000 properties have offered their workers security devices, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Sacramento County has had a similar law in place since 2018, but it applies only to hotels with more than 25 rooms. That means about a quarter of the hotels in the county aren't required to provide the buttons.
The new law would also recommend — but not require — hotels to tell guests that employees have the devices. It would also recommend hotels tell employees that sexual harassment by co-workers and guests is not allowed.
A bill before the California Legislature last year would have made the buttons mandatory for hotels. It passed the Assembly but failed to make it out of a Senate committee.
CapRadio provides a trusted source of news because of you. As a nonprofit organization, donations from people like you sustain the journalism that allows us to discover stories that are important to our audience. If you believe in what we do and support our mission, please donate today.