What Are My Employee Rights During the Coronavirus Outbreak?

Uncertainty, fear, confusion – this is what many people have been feeling during this tumultuous time of the Coronavirus outbreak. While many of us have not been directly affected by the illness, the changes to our communities, and the discourse of the situation have left us worried about what the future holds. One of the biggest changes has been in the workplace. These changes have been swift and drastic for some, resulting in closed doors or layoffs, while others have switched to telecommuting and video conferencing to get work done. Regardless of your unique situation, it is important to be aware of your rights as a California employee during COVID-19.


Working Remotely


During this time, health experts have expressed the importance of “social distancing” or “self-isolation” in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. As a response, many companies have requested their employees work from home. For employees in this situation, a request like this from your employer would be required of you. In most cases, your employer will be required to provide you the tools you need to fulfill your job requirements remotely. 


While many companies are switching to a short-term telecommuting model, many industries can’t, or won’t, ask this of their employees. There is no federal or California law that gives employees the right to work remotely. If you have concerns about returning to work and have the ability to work from home, you may still ask your employer if they can make these accommodations for you.  


Paid Sick Leave 


In the event you do come in contact with someone who has tested posted for COV-19, you will be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days regardless of whether you are showing symptoms or feeling sick. During this time, if you cannot work remotely  you may be asked to use PTO orsick days, you have previously accrued. In addition, if your employer has less than 500 employees, the recently enacted Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) entitles full-time employees to up to 80 hours of emergency paid sick leave. Please check our last blog, titled “What the Families First Coronavirus Response Act Means For You” for more details and your rights.

If you have run out of paid leave and are unable to work because of the virus, you may be able to file a Disability Insurance claim with the state of California. If you have to take care of a child due to school closures, the FFCRA entitles you to up to 12 weeks of paid family leave at 2/3 your regular rate of pay.


Loss of Wages


Unfortunately, many companies are suffering financially from the outbreak of COV-19, and employees may find themselves out of a job or working diminished hours due to store closures. If you are dealing with a loss of wages due to the coronavirus, you may be able to recover some funds by applying for unemployment. 


This is a difficult time for many, and news regarding COV-19 is updated every day. Stay informed and knowledgeable, and know your rights as you continue to navigate through this tough period. If you believe your rights are being infringed upon by your employer, please do not hesitate to reach out to us by giving us a call at 949-753-9100.

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