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CALIFORNIA EMPLOYERS’ GUIDE TO DEALING WITH THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

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These are unprecedented times full of uncertainly and anxiety. There are lots of
conflicting stories in the media, but what is undeniable is that people are
frightened and want to avoid crowds. Everyone has questions on how to handle
the difficult employment issues that arise in a situation like this. We hope this
Client Alert answers some of those questions.


We recommend that employers have a policy in place and treat everyone
consistently. Do not make determinations of risk based on race or country of
origin and, like all other confidential health-related information, be sure to
maintain the confidentiality of people with confirmed COVID-19 aka the Coronavirus.


The policy should include the following:


· Actively encourage sick employees to stay home. If an employee comes to
work exhibiting signs of illness, particularly a cold or cough, you should
strongly encourage the employee to go home. If the employee chooses not
to, try to physically separate that person from others, such as having them
work in a separate office. We do not recommend, at least at this time,
forcing employees to go home.


· Consider temporarily expanding your Paid Sick Leave Policy so that
employees do not have to choose between calling in sick and being paid.
Temporarily suspend the requirement of a healthcare provider’s note, as
healthcare provider offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy
and not able to provide such documentation in a timely manner. As a
reminder, employers may not require a doctor’s notes if the employee is

using Paid Sick Leave.


· Allow employees to work from home. Employees may need to stay home
to care for children due to school closings, or because their children or
other family members are ill. Do not force employees to work from home.
Forcing, rather than allowing, employees to work from home can have
significant legal implications. Please feel free to call us to further discuss
this issue.


· Ensure that you have the information technology and infrastructure
needed to support multiple employees who may choose to work from
home.


· Place posters that encourage employees to stay home when sick, display
cough and sneeze etiquette, and hand hygiene at the entrance to your
workplace and in other workplace areas (kitchens, breakrooms, etc.)
where they are likely to be seen.


· Provide tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles for use by employees.


· Instruct employees to clean their hands often with an alcohol-based hand
sanitizer and wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Provide soap and water and alcohol-based hand sanitizers in the
workplace. Ensure that adequate supplies are maintained. Place hand
sanitizers in multiple locations or in conference rooms to encourage hand
hygiene.


· Perform routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces in the workplace,
such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs with cleansers that are
confirmed to kill the Coronavirus.


· If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, employers should inform
fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace
but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities
Act (ADA) and various California state laws.

 

For employers who require employees to travel, consider the following:


· Suspending all non-essential travel.

 

· Encourage employees who become sick while traveling to stay home.


· Encourage video meetings and conferences.


· Confer with clients, customers and co-workers on the phone rather than in
person.

HOW TO PROTECT YOUR EMPLOYEES

Q: SHOULD EMPLOYERS CIRCULATE A CORONAVIRUS POLICY

A: Yes! Please feel free to use the sample policy below as a template.

Our Company is committed to ensuring the health and safety of its employees. In an effort to keep our workforce healthy and maintain normal business operations during the coronavirus pandemic, we have decided to temporarily allow all employees who have the ability and desire to do do, to work from home. Please note that working from home is not a long-term entitlement, but rather is temporary and revocable. While working remotely, employees remain subject to all company policies and performance standards and must meet with their managers to determine best practices for those employees who opt to work from home. Employees will be required to return to work once the crisis subsides or at the Company's discretion, whichever is sooner.

 

For those employees who must come to work because of the nature of their duties, or who otherwise choose to come to the worksite, the Company will encourage any employee who is unwell to stay home. If an employee shows signs of illness, particularly a cold or cough, the Company will strongly encourage the employee to go home. If the employee remains ar work, the COmpany will take reasonable steps to physically separate that employee from others; for example, having them work in a separate office.

All employees are encourages to clean their hands often with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60-95% alcohol or wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Soap and water should be used where possible. The Company will provide these soaps and sanitizers (if available) for its employees. Employee should avoid touching their eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.

All employees should cover their noses and mouths with a tissue when coughing or sneezing (or an elbow or shoulder if no tissue is available). Employees should avoid close contact with people who are sick, sneezing or coughing.

Everyone should clean and disenfect surfaces and objects that people frequently touch.

During this period of uncertaintu, the Company will suspend requirement to produce a healthcare provider's note to validate an illness or fitness to return to work.

The Company does not make any health or safety determination, or any other work-related policy, on the basis of race, ethnicity or country of origin.

Q: CAN I FIRE OR DISCIPLINE AN EMPLOYEE WHO REFUSES TO COME INTO WORK BECAUSE THEY ARE AFRAID OF CONTRACTING THE CORONAVIRUS?

A: Yes, but we advise that you consult with counsel before doing so. EMployees may only refuse to work when there is a threat of death or serious physical harm.

Currently, most working consitions do not meet this standard desptire the World Health Organization labeling the coronavirus as a pandemic.

Q: CAN I FORCE AN EMPLOYEE TO LEAVE WORK IF THEY SHOW SIGNS OF BEING ILL?

A: We do not recommend this. Forcing an employee to go home - rather than simply urging them to go home - could lead to claims of disability discrimination. Further, employers need to make sure they are not treating any particular group or race differently than any other protected class, such as requiring certain employees to stay home while permitting others to come to work.

EMPLOYEE PAY ISSUES

Q: CAN AN EMPLOYEE USE CALIFORNIA PAID SICK LEAVE DUE TO COVID-19 ILLNESS?

A: Yes. If the employee has Paid Sick Leave available, the employer must provide such leave and compensate the employee under California Paid Sick Leave laws. Paid Sick Leave can be used for absences due to illness, the diagnosis, care or treatment of an existing health condition or preventative care for the employee or the employee's family member.

Preventative care may include self quarantine as a result of potential exposure to the COVID-19 if quarantine is recommended by civil authorities. In addition, there may be other situations where an employee may exercise their right to take Paid Sick Leave, or an employer may allow Paid SIck Leave for preventative care. For example, where ther has been exposure to COVID-19 or where the employee has traveled to a high-risk area.

Q: IF AN EMPLOYEE EXHAUSTS SICK LEAVE, CAN OTHER PAID LEAVE BE USED?

A: Yes, if an employee does not qualify to use Paid Sick Leave, or has exhausted sick leave other leave may be used. If there is a vacation or paid time off policy, an employee may choose to take such leave and be compensated provided that the terms of the vacation or paid time off policy allows for leave in this circumstance.

Q: IF AN EMPLOYEE EXHAUSTS SICK LEAVE, ARE THEY ENTITLED TO UNPAID LEAVE DURING THEIR SICKNESS OR TO CARE FOR A FAMILY MEMBER?

A: An employee is exempt if they are paid at least the minimum required salary and meet the other qualifications for exemption. Federal regulations require that employers pay an exempt employee performing any work during a  week their full weekly salary if they do not worj the full week becayse the employer failed to make work available.

An exempt employee who performs no work at all during a week may have their weekly salary reduced.

Deductions from salary for abscences of less than a full day for personal reasons of for sickness are not permitted. If an exempt employee works any portion of a day, there can be no deduction form salary for a partioal day absence for personal or medical reasons.

Federal regulations allow partial day deductions from an employee's accrued sick leave so that the employee is paid for their sick time by using their accrued sick leave. If an exempt employee has not yet accrued any sick leave or has exhausted all of their sick leave balance, there can be no salary deduction for a partial day absence.

Deductions from salary may also be made if the exempt employee is absent from work for a full day or more for personal reasons other than sickness and/or accident, so long as work was available for the employee, had they chosen to work.

Q: MY HOURLY NON-EXEMPT EMPLOYEE CAME TO WORK TODAY BUT LEFT EARLY AFTER DEVELOPING SYMPTOMS. AM I REQUIRED TO PAY THEM FOR A FULL DAY OF WORK?

A: Generally, no. Nonexempt employees are only paid for the time they work. However, if the employer forces the employee to leave, then an employer must pay the employee reporting time. Reporting time requires the employer to pay an employee for at least half of the hours he/she was sheculed for or usually worked, but never less than two hours pay and never more than four hours pay.

Q: WHAT IF AN EMPLOYEE’S CHILD'S SCHOOL OR DAY CARE CLOSES FOR REASONS RELATED TO COVID-19?

Employees should discuss theur options with their employers/ There may be Paid Sick Leave or other paid leave that is available to employees. Employees at worksites with 25 or more employees may also be provided up to 40 hours of leave per year for specific school-related emergencies, such as the closure of a child's school or day care by civil authorities (see Labor Code section 230.8). Whether that leave is paid or unpaid depends on the employer's paid leave, vacation or other paid time off policies. Employers may require employees use their vacation or paid time off benefits before they are allowed to take unpaid leave but cannot mandate that employees use Paid Sick Leave. Hoerver, a parent may choose to use any available Paid SIck Leave to be with their child as preventative care.

Q: CAN I REDUCE EMPLOYEE / BUSINESS HOURS?

A: Yes you can reduce employee hours. However, althering the hours of some employees over otheres could be viewed as discrimination or retailiation, so consult legal counsel before doing so.

Q: THE VIRUS HAS CAUSED AN ECONOMIC SLOWDOWN THAT HAS FORCED ME TO LAY OFF EMPLOYEES. IS IT OKAY FOR ME TO FIRE EMPLOYEES?

A: Yes Employment in Californina is presumed to be at-will. This means that either the employer or employee can end the employment relationship at any time, with or without cause. However, firing some employees over others can be considered discriminatory so the best practice would be to consult legal counsel before doing so. Also, depending on the size of your business, you may be subject to certain notice requirements when laying off a large number of employees or closing your business. Consult legal counsel in theses situations before initiating any mass layoff or business closures.

EMPLOYEES WHO TRAVEL

Q: CAN AN EMPLOYER REQUIRE A WORKER TO PROVIDE INFORMATION
ABOUT RECENT TRAVEL TO COUNTRIES CONSIDERED TO BE HIGH-RISK FOR EXPOSURE TO THE CORONAVIRUS?

 

A: Yes. Employers can request that employees inform them if they are planning or have traveled to countries considered by the Centers for Diseas Control and Prevention to be high-risk areas for exposure to the coronavirus. However, employees have a right to medical privacy, so the employer cannot inquire into areas of medical privacy.

Q: OUR EMPLOYEE RECENTLY CAME BACK FROM TRAVEL IN A HIGH-RISK AREA OR SUSTAINED CONTACT WITH AN INFECTED INDIVIDUAL. CAN WE SEND THIS EMPLOYEE HOME?

A: It depends. Under the federal and California Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), an employer has an obligation to provide a safe and healthy work environment. However, managing illness in the workplace implicates a number of medical and privacy concerns that an employer must balance.

If the employee is not displaying any overt symptoms and is ready and able to perform their job, the employer cannot send them home. On the other hand, if the employee is displaying overt symptoms of cough or cold, the employer should provide them with a separate work location to reduce the chance of transmitting the illness.

The employer can also strongly encourage employees to stay home if they are not feeling well or believe they may be a health threat to their fellow employees.

Employers can also choose to expand Paid SIck LEave options to their employees during these difficult times.

Be sure to never make assessments based on race, ethnicity, or country of origin and be sure to maintain the privacy of employee's medical situations. Employers are restricted by law from inquiring about employee's medical histories, so be extremely careful about asking questions that potentially probe into an employee's medical status, and never reveal the name of an infected employee or reveal private information to your staff.

 

We hope you find this useful. If you have any questions, please fo not hesitate to contact us.

CORONAVIRUS 2019 (COVID-19) FAQS


The following information provides you general guidance as to what programs are available and what situations may be applicable to your circumstances. We encourage you to apply for the program you believe best fits your needs and the EDD will determine your eligibility for benefits.


Disability or Paid Family Leave Benefits
Unemployment Insurance Benefits
Employer Information


Disability or Paid Family Leave Benefits


1. What benefits are available if I’m sick and can’t work?
If you’re unable to work due to having or being exposed to COVID-19 and if you have the
necessary supporting medical documentation (see question #2), you are encouraged to file a
Disability Insurance (DI) claim. DI provides short-term benefit payments to eligible workers who have a full or partial loss of wages due to a non-work-related illness, injury, or pregnancy. Most California workers are covered by DI through deductions from their paychecks (noted as “CASDI” on most paystubs).

The Governor’s Executive Order waives the one-week unpaid waiting period, so you can collect DI benefits for the first week you are out of work. If you are eligible, the EDD processes and issues payments within a few weeks of receiving a claim.

2. What kind of medical documentation is required to support a claim for Disability Insurance
benefits?

To be eligible for Disability Insurance (DI) benefits, you must submit certain medical
documentation. This requirement can be met by a medical certification signed by a treating
physician or a practitioner that includes a diagnosis and ICD-10 code, or if no diagnosis has been obtained, a statement of symptoms; the start date of the condition; its probable duration; and the treating physician’s or practitioner’s license number or facility information. This requirement can also be met by a written order from a state or local health o􀁷icer that is specific to you.

For fastest processing of your claim, submit your claim online and have your supporting medical documentation submitted online immediately a􀁸er.
You may also request that the EDD send you a Claim for Disability Insurance (DI) Benefits (DE
2501) (PDF) form, which can be ordered online and sent to you. Submit the completed form to the EDD using the envelope provided. If your medical documentation is provided in any other form other than EDD’s designated claim form, it should be submitted separately by mail to:

Employment Development Department
PO Box 10402
Van Nuys, CA 91410-0402


3. How much can I earn in disability benefits?
Benefit amounts are approximately 60-70 percent of wages (depending on income) and range from $50-$1,300 a week. The EDD provides a Disability Insurance Calculator to estimate your potential benefit amount. Disability benefits are paid through the date your doctor certifies or when you exhaust your available benefits, whichever comes first within a 52-week period.

The Governor’s Executive Order waives the one-week unpaid waiting period, so you can collect DI benefits for the first week you are out of work. If you are eligible, the EDD processes and issues payments within a few weeks of receiving a claim.


4. Can I qualify for disability benefits if I’m quarantined?
Yes, if your quarantine is certified by a medical professional or a state or local health o􀁷icer. If you are not found eligible for DI, you are encouraged to apply for an Unemployment Insurance (UI) claim. See question #10.

5. What benefits are available if a family member is sick and I have to miss work to care for that person?
If you’re unable to work because you are caring for an ill or quarantined family member with
COVID-19, you are encouraged to file a Paid Family Leave (PFL) claim. PFL provides up to six
weeks, this extends to eight weeks starting July 1, 2020, of benefit payments to eligible workers who have a full or partial loss of wages because they need time o􀁷 work to care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a new child. For the purposes of PFL coverage, a family member is defined as seriously ill child, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or registered domestic partner.

 

6. What kind of medical documentation is required to support a claim for PFL benefits?
To be eligible for PFL benefits, you must submit certain medical documentation regarding the family member in your care who is either ill or quarantined due to COVID-19. This requirement can be met by a medical certification for that person from a treating physician or a practitioner that includes a diagnosis and ICD-10 code, or if no diagnosis has been obtained, a statement of symptoms; the start date of the condition; its probable duration; and the treating physician’s or practitioner’s license number or facility information. This requirement can also be met by a written order from a state or local health o􀁷icer that is specific to your family member’s situation. Absent those documents from a physician or health o􀁷icer, you may be eligible for an Unemployment Insurance (UI) claim instead. See question #10.


For fastest processing of your claim, submit your claim online and have the supporting medical documentation submitted online immediately after.


You may also request that the EDD send you a Claim for Paid Family Leave (PFL) Benefits (DE
2501F) (PDF) form, which can be ordered online and sent to you. Submit the completed form to the EDD using the envelope provided. If your medical documentation is provided in any other form other than the EDD’s designated claim form, it should be submitted separately by mail to:


Employment Development Department
PO Box 45011
Fresno, CA 93718-5011


7. How much can I earn in Paid Family Leave benefits?
Benefit amounts are approximately 60-70 percent of wages (depending on income) and range from $50-$1,300 a week. You can use the Paid Family Leave Calculator to help estimate your potential benefit amount.


If you are eligible, the EDD processes and issues payments within a few weeks of receiving a claim.


8. If I am self-employed, and am sick or caring for a sick family member, can I apply for
benefits?

If you are self-employed, you may have benefits available from the EDD employment insurance programs that you or your employer may have paid into over the past 5 to 18 months. You may have contributions from a prior job, or it’s possible you may have been misclassified as an independent contractor instead of an employee.

 

We encourage you to file a Disability Insurance (DI) claim if you are sick or quarantined. If you are caring for an ill or medically quarantined family member, file a Paid Family Leave claim. Our EDD representatives will review your case and determine your eligibility for benefits. For fastest processing of your claim, submit your claim online.

You may also be eligible for benefits if you pay into Disability Insurance Elective Coverage (DIEC). DIEC is an option for self-employed people (such as independent contractors) and employers to apply for coverage under State Disability Insurance (SDI). This includes school district and state employees who are exempt from SDI, but can negotiate to participate in the DIEC. Visit Self- Employed/Independent Contractor to learn more.

9. If I am not covered by State Disability Insurance (SDI), can I collect benefits if I am sick or
caring for a sick family member?

You may have benefits available through other insurance programs that your employer have paid into in the past 5 to 18 months. California law allows your employer to o􀁷er you a Voluntary Plan option instead of the SDI program. You should check with your employer’s personnel or benefits office about filing a Disability Insurance or Paid Family Leave.

You also may have contributions from a prior job in the past 5 to 18 months, or it’s possible you may have been misclassified as an independent contractor instead of an employee.

 

Unemployment Insurance Benefits


10. What benefits are available if I am subject to quarantine, am not ill, and am not found
eligible for a Disability Insurance claim?


You are encouraged to apply for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits if you are unemployed, which includes reasons such as:

Your hours are reduced due to the quarantine.
You were separated from your employer during the quarantine.
You are subject to a quarantine required by a medical professional or state or local health

 

You can be eligible for benefits if you have enough earnings over the past 12-18 months and meet other eligibility criteria. The Governor’s Executive Order waives the one-week unpaid waiting period, so you can collect UI benefits for the first week you are out of work. If you are eligible, the EDD processes and issues payments within a few weeks of receiving a claim.
EDD representatives may need to set up a phone interview with you to collect more details.

 

If you are temporarily out of work and plan to return to the same employer, you do not need
to meet the usual requirement of looking for work while you are collecting unemployment
benefits. The EDD will inform you if you are not required to look for work each week.

 

If you are not connected to a certain employer with a job to return to, you are required to
look for work while collecting benefits. Looking for work can be done from home including
using online channels, mailing job applications, calling about job openings, registering in
CalJOBS (the state’s online labor exchange system), etc. The EDD will inform you if you
are required to look for work each week.

 

11. Can I file an Unemployment Insurance claim if I am self-employed?
If you are self-employed and unable to work or have had your hours reduced due to COVID-19, you may be eligible for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits under a few di
fferent scenarios:

You chose to contribute to UI Elective Coverage and paid the required contributions to be considered potentially eligible for benefits.

Your past employer made contributions on your behalf over the past 5-18 months.

You may have been misclassified as an independent contractor instead of an employee.

12. Would I qualify for benefits if I choose to stay home from work due to underlying health conditions and concerns about exposure to the virus?

You could be eligible for unemployment benefits. Our EDD representatives will seek details from you to determine eligibility based on the reason you are unemployed and the reason for restricting your availability to work. You may be required to actively seek work each week to show that you are still making yourself available for work. The work search could include looking for work through online channels, mailing job applications, calling about job openings, registering in CalJOBS (the state's online job exchange system), etc.

13. Would I qualify for benefits if the child's school shuts down and I have to miss work to care for that child who is not ill?

You may be eligible for unemployment benefits. Our EDD representatives will determine eligibility on a case-by-case basis by scheduling a phone interview with you. For example, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits if your employer has temporarily allowed you to work less than full-time hours due to your child care situation. In such a case, you may be eligible for reduced benefits based on the amount of your weekly earnings, as long as you meet all other eligibility requirements. The EDD will contact you and your employer for information to determine your eligibility.

14. Can I collect benefits if my child's school shuts down and I have to stay home to care for my child if I'm not currently employed or I had to quit work because of my child care needs?

You may be eligible for unemployment benefits. Our EDD representatives will determine eligibility on a case-by-case basis by scheduling a phone interview with you.

15. Are benefits available if my employer reduces my hours or shuts down operations due to
impacts of the coronavirus?

If your employer reduced your hours or shut down operations due to COVID-19, you are
encouraged to file an Unemployment Insurance (UI) claim. UI provides partial wage replacement benefit payments to workers who lose their job or have their hours reduced, through no fault of their own. Workers who are temporarily unemployed due to COVID-19 and expected to return to work with their employer within a few weeks are not required to actively seek work each week. However, they must remain able, available, and ready to work during their unemployment for each week of benefits claimed and meet all other eligibility criteria.

16. How much can I collect in benefits with an Unemployment Insurance (UI) claim?

Eligible individuals can receive benefits that range from $40-$450 per week. Depending on your maximum award for your UI claim and your weekly benefit amounts paid, the number of weeks you can potentially receive benefit payments ranges from 13 to 26 weeks if you are paid at your full weekly benefit amount for each of those weeks. Your payments could stretch to a longer duration if you perform some work for pay or if you receive other deductible income during the course of a claim, and you receive reduced unemployment benefits as a result during those weeks.

You can use the Unemployment Insurance Calculator to help estimate your potential weekly
benefit amount.

The Governor’s Executive Order waives the one-week unpaid waiting period, so you can collect UI benefits for the first week you are out of work. If you are eligible, the EDD processes and issues payments within a few weeks of receiving a claim.

17. Can I still collect unemployment benefits if I am able to work remotely from home?
Working your full normal hours remotely would not qualify you for benefits. However, you could collect some Unemployment Insurance benefits if your usual number of work hours are reduced through no fault of your own. The first $25 or 25 percent of your wages, whichever is the greater amount, is not counted as wages earned and will not be reduced from your UI weekly benefit amount. For example, if you earned $100 in a week, the Department would not count $25 as wages and would only deduct $75 from your weekly benefit amount. For someone who has a weekly benefit amount of $450, they would be paid a reduced amount of $375.

18. Can I collect disability and unemployment benefits at the same time?
You have the right to apply and file a claim for unemployment and disability benefits at the same time, but you can only collect payments under one benefit program at a time. You’re encouraged to file a claim under one program based on your circumstances or file under both programs if you are unsure of which program is most appropriate. The EDD will review the facts and determine your eligibility for the appropriate program.

19. Can I start collecting disability benefits and then transition to an unemployment claim if my workplace operations continue to be impacted with a slowdown or shutdown?
Yes. If your employer shuts down operations or reduces hours for workers while you are on your disability claim, you may apply for unemployment benefits at that time. The EDD will help determine the start of your Unemployment Insurance claim as long as you meet all other
eligibility requirements.

20. Can I start collecting unemployment benefits because I am laid off or have had my work hours reduced, and then switch to a disability claim if I become sick?

Yes. If you become sick while you are out of work, you can apply for a disability claim, which can provide a higher benefit amount if you’re eligible. Medical certification is required to
substantiate your illness. If you are approved for a Disability Insurance claim, your Unemployment Insurance (UI) claim will be suspended. If you recover but remain unemployed, you may then return to the remainder of your UI claim benefits as long as you remain out of work and are otherwise eligible. You will need to reapply to reopen your UI claim.

21. Can I start collecting unemployment benefits because I am laid o or have had my work hours reduced, and then switch to a Paid Family Leave claim if I have to care for a family member who is sick?

Yes. If you have a family member who becomes sick while you are out of work, you can apply for a Paid Family Leave claim which can provide a higher benefit amount if you’re eligible. Medical certification is required to substantiate your family member’s illness. If you are approved for a Paid Family Leave claim, your Unemployment Insurance (UI) claim will be suspended. If you complete your Paid Family Leave claim and remain unemployed, you may then return to the remainder of your UI claim benefits as long as you remain out of work and otherwise eligible. You will need to reapply to reopen your UI claim.

Employer Information

22. What can I do if my business has slowed due to COVID-19?

If COVID-19 has impacted your business or services, you can avoid potential layoffs by participating in the Unemployment Insurance (UI) Work Sharing Program. This program allows you to retain your workers by reducing their hours and wages no more than 60 percent and partially offsetting the wage loss with UI benefits. This helps you avoid the cost of recruiting, hiring, and training new workers and helps your workers keep their jobs and receive some financial support with UI benefits. You and your workers can also be prepared to quickly adjust when business improves.

23. What if I have to let go of some of my workers temporarily until business improves?
Your workers can file for unemployment benefits as long as they are unemployed and otherwise eligible. Workers who expect to return to work for you within a few weeks are not required to actively seek work each week as long as they are able and available to return to work during their unemployment and meet all other eligibility criteria. The EDD will explain the requirements to your workers when they apply for benefits.

24. What can I do if I have to shut down my business permanently?
If you are facing potential layoffs or plant closures, you can get help through the Rapid Response program. Rapid Response teams will meet with you to discuss your needs, help avoid layoffs where possible, and support your workers through the process. Services can include upgrades to current worker skills, customized training, career counseling, job search assistance, help with filing unemployment insurance claims, and information about education and training opportunities. For more information, refer to Rapid Response Services for Businesses Fact Sheet (DE 87144RRB) (PDF). You can also contact your local America’s Job Center of California for more information about available Rapid Response services.

25. What if I can’t file or pay my payroll taxes on time because of COVID-19?
With the Governor’s emergency declaration, if your business is directly affected by COVID-19, you can request up to a 60-day extension to file your state payroll reports and deposit state payroll taxes without penalty or interest. The written request for an extension, noting the impact of COVID- 19, must be received within 60 days from the original delinquent date of the payment or return. For the address to send the request, along with other information, please see the State of Emergency or Disaster Fact Sheet (DE 231SED) (PDF).

You can also call the EDD Taxpayer Assistance Center with any questions you may have about yourpayroll tax responsibilities.


Toll-free from the U.S. or Canada: 1-888-745-3886
Hearing impaired (TTY): 1-800-547-9565
Outside the U.S. or Canada: 1-916-464-3502

26. What can I do to protect my workers from COVID-19?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Guidance for Business and Employers includes basic precautions like proper handwashing and cleaning, as well as making sure your sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance. Visit Cal/OSHA Guidance on Coronavirus to learn more about workplace requirements.

Visit the main COVID-19 webpage for more information and resources.

WORKSHARING PROGRAM

Employers can apply for the Unemployment Insurance (UI) Work Sharing Program if reduced
production, services, or other conditions cause them to seek an alternative to layoffs.

The Work Sharing Program helps employees whose hours and wages have been reduced:

Receive UI benefits.
Keep their current job.
Avoid financial hardships.

The Work Sharing Program helps employers:

Minimize or eliminate the need for layoffs.
Keep trained employees and quickly prepare when business conditions improve.
Avoid the cost of recruiting, hiring, and training new employees.


Requirements

To participate, employers must meet all of the following requirements:

Be a legally registered business in California.


Have an active California State Employer Account Number.


At least 10 percent of the employer’s regular workforce or a unit of the workforce, and a minimum of two employees, must be affected by a reduction in hours and wages.


Hours and wages must be reduced by at least 10 percent and not exceed 60 percent.

Health benefits must remain the same as before, or they must meet the same standards as other employees who are not participating in Work Sharing.

Retirement benefits must meet the same terms and conditions as before, or they must meet the same as other employees not participating in Work Sharing.

The collective bargaining agent of employees in a bargaining unit must agree to voluntarily
participate and sign the application for Work Sharing.

Identify the affected work units to be covered by the Work Sharing plan and identify each
participating employee by their full name and Social Security number.

Notify employees in advance of the intent to participate in the Work Sharing program.

Identify how many layoffs will be avoided by participating in the Work Sharing program.

Provide the EDD with any necessary reports or documents relating to the Work Sharing plan.


Restrictions

Leased, intermittent, seasonal, or temporary service employees cannot participate in the Work Sharing Program.

Corporate o􀁷icers or major stockholders with investment in the company cannot participate in the Work Sharing Program.

The Work Sharing Program cannot be used as a transition to a layoff.


Plan Application

Apply for a Work Sharing plan by completing and mailing the Work Sharing (WS) Unemployment Insurance Plan Application (DE 8686) (PDF).


The earliest date for a new Work Sharing plan to become effective is the Sunday before the first date you contact the EDD. All Work Sharing plans are approved for one year.

Employers can renew a Work Sharing plan by completing and mailing the Work Sharing (WS)
Unemployment Insurance Plan Application (DE 8686) (PDF). A Work Sharing plan will be renewed the day after your previous plan expires.'


Note: Your plan application will only renew if it is submitted no more than 10 days after your previous plan has expired. Otherwise, your plan will become effective the Sunday before the date we receive your application.

Contact Us


Employers


If you need additional information on the Work Sharing Program, contact the EDD Special Claims Office at 916-464-3343

Employees

If you are approved by your employer to participate in the Work Sharing Program and have questions regarding your claim, contact the EDD Special Claims office at 916-464-3300

RESOURCES

https://edd.ca.gov/about_edd/coronavirus-2019/faqs.htm

https://www.edd.ca.gov/unemployment/Work_Sharing_Program.htm



 

CORONAVIRUS PAID LEAVE UPDATE

Paid Leave Now Required for Coronavirus-Related Leaves


The new federal law has two parts relating to COVID-19 related employee leave: The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act. Each is addressed separately below.
 

Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA)

How does the EFMLEA change the FMLA?


The EFMLEA expands and revises the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) by providing 12 weeks of Public Health Emergency Leave to employees of any employers of 500 or fewer employees whether or not such employer was previously subject to the FMLA.


Employees must be afforded leave under this law if they are unable to work or telework because they have to care for a son or daughter under 18 years of age if school/daycare or other childcare has been closed or is unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.


Who is eligible for paid leave under the EFMLEA?


Unlike the rest of the FMLA, this paid leave is available to any employee who has worked for 30 days or more for an employer.


Is this leave paid?


The first 10 days are unpaid. Employees may elect to use any accrued but unused vacation, sick pay, or other paid time off during the first 10 days.


The remaining 10 weeks are paid. Leave is paid at not less than two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay up to $200 per day and $10,000 in the aggregate. The regular rate of pay takes into account the number of hours the employee is normally scheduled to work, or if the schedule preceding the date of leave.


But the new Paid Sick Law provides paid leave for 80 hours if an employee is unable to work or telework because of childcare needs caused by the coronavirus. So, the first 10 days/2 weeks are paid under EPSLA (defined below).


Does this law apply to small businesses?


The Secretary of Labor has the power to exempt certain health care providers, emergency responders, small businesses with fewer than 50 employees and from the leave requirements of the EFMLEA but has not yet done so.


Do employers need to hold jobs open for employees taking EFMLEA leave?


Yes, the same job protection applies as if the employee were taking FMLA leave. Except employers with fewer than 25 employees do not have to restore employees to the position if (1) the position did not exist at the time the leave commenced due to economic conditions or other changes caused by the public health emergency, and (2) the employer makes efforts to restore the employee to the position and to contact the employee if such position becomes available for one year after the date such leave is needed. In addition, employees may not bring private suits against employers with fewer than 50 employees who fail to comply with the leave requirements of the EFMLEA.


Are these changes to the Family Medical Leave Act permanent?


No, the EFMLEA ends on December 31, 2020.

 

Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA)

What does the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) provide?

The EPSLA requires all employers to immediately provide two weeks of paid sick time to the extent that the employee is unable to work or telework because of the following reasons:


• The employee is subject to a Federal, State or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19.


• The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.


• The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID -19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis.


• The employee is caring for an individual who has been quarantined.


• The employee is caring for a child because the school or childcare is not available due to COVID precautions.

 

Healthcare providers and employers of emergency responders appear to be exempt from both the emergency paid sick leave and emergency expansion of the FMLA.


How much paid sick leave do employers need to provide?

For full-time employees, 80 hours. For part-time employees, the average number of hours the employee works during a two-week period.


How do employers have to pay employees out on EPSLA?

The corresponding rates of pay and cap on payments for each reason are shown on the following chart:

 

Covered Reason for Leave:
The employee is subject to a Federal, State or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19.

Rate of Pay
:
The employee’s regular rate of pay.

Cap on Payments:
$511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate.

Covered Reason for Leave:
The employee has been advised by a health care provide to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.

 

Rate of Pay:
The employee’s regular rate of pay.

Cap on Payments:
$511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate.

Covered Reason for Leave:
The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID -19 and is seeking medical diagnosis.

Rate of Pay:
The employee’s regular rate of pay.

 

Cap on Payments:
$511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate.

 

Covered Reason for Leave:
The employee is caring for an individual who has been quarantined.

 

Rate of Pay:
Two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay.

Cap on Payments:
$200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate

 

 

Covered Reason for Leave:
The employee is caring for a child because the school or childcare is not available due to COVID precautions.

 

Rate of Pay:
Two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay.

 

Cap on Payments:
$200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate
 

Paid leave time provided by the new requirements does not carry over from one year to the next. Employees are not entitled to reimbursement for unused leave upon termination, resignation, retirement, or other separation from employment.


What if the company has existing paid time off or sick leave?


Employers that have policies that comply with existing sick leave laws must still provide this new, separate form of paid leave, in addition to any leave policies already in existence. An employer may not require employees to use other forms of paid time off (such as vacation or other Paid Sick Leave policies) prior to using this form of sick leave.


What if the employee is new to the company?


Under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, there is no employment duration required. This leave is immediate to all employees.


What will happen if the company does not comply?


A violation of the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act will subject the employer to all the penalties available under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for unpaid minimum wages, including liquidated damages of up to two times the unpaid amount plus attorneys’ fees and litigation costs. Retaliation for using leave under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act is actionable as retaliation in violation of the FLSA.


Are employers required to notify employees of these laws?


Yes. The Secretary of Labor will issue a model notice which must be posted at worksites.


Tax credit assistance for employers


Employers will be entitled to a future payroll tax credit for wages that must be paid to employees for mandated paid emergency or sick leave. Please contact your accountant for further information.
 

EMPLOYEE RIGHTS

PAID SICK LEAVE AND EXPANDED FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE UNDER THE FAMILIES FIRST CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE ACT

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. These provisions will apply from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020.

PAID LEAVE ENTITLEMENTS
Generally, employers covered under the Act must provide employees:
Up to two weeks (80 hours, or a part-time employee’s two-week equivalent) of paid sick leave based on the higher of
their regular rate of pay, or the applicable state or Federal minimum wage, paid at:
• 100% for qualifying reasons #1-3 below, up to $511 daily and $5,110 total;
• 2/3 for qualifying reasons #4 and 6 below, up to $200 daily and $2,000 total; and
• Up to 10 weeks more of paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave paid at 2/3 for qualifying reason #5 below for up to $200 daily and $12,000 total.


A part-time employee is eligible for leave for the number of hours that the employee is normally scheduled to work
over that period.


ELIGIBLE EMPLOYEES
In general, employees of private sector employers with fewer than 500 employees, and certain public sector employers, are eligible for up to two weeks of fully or partially paid sick leave for COVID-19 related reasons (see below). Employees who have been employed for at least 30 days prior to their leave request may be eligible for up to an additional 10 weeks of partially paid expanded family and medical leave for reason #5 below.

QUALIFYING REASONS FOR LEAVE RELATED TO COVID-19
An employee is entitled to take leave related to COVID-19 if the employee is unable to work, including unable to telework, because the employee:

1. is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or
isolation order related to COVID-19;
2. has been advised by a health care provider to
self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
3. is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking
a medical diagnosis;
4. is caring for an individual subject to an order described
in (1) or self-quarantine as described in (2);

5. is caring for his or her child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) due to COVID-19 relate reasons; or

6. is experiencing any other substantially-similar condition specified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

 


ENFORCEMENT
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has the authority to investigate and enforce compliance with the FFCRA. Employers may not discharge, discipline, or oth erwise discriminate against any employee who lawfully takes paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave under the FFCRA, files a complaint, or institutes a proceeding under or related to this Act. Employers in violation of the provisions of the FFCRA will be subject to penalties and enforcement by WHD.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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