COVID-19: Updated Employee FAQ
In an effort to provide timely, accurate information to all our employees with questions on how the COVID-19 Pandemic impacts our work, this FAQ page has been established. PLEASE NOTE: due to the rapidly evolving situation and changing regulations and orders from Federal, State and County authorities, the information provided below may be amended regularly. We will continue to build and update these FAQs as more questions are asked. If you have general personnel policy-related questions please email Shannon Crowe in Human Resources at Shannon.Crowe@CoronaCA.gov For all other general questions, please email Cindy.Solis@CoronaCA.gov.
The document reviews paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave under the families first Coronavirus Response Act.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q1. What if I am not feeling well?
Employees exhibiting signs or symptoms of cold or flu should stay home and may use annual leave or e-leave. The employee should be asymptomatic for at least 72 hours before returning to work. If the employee is sick for 3 days, or more, the City may require the employee to provide medical certification.
Employees exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, including a temperature of at least 100.4, shall not report to work, but shall immediately notify their immediate supervisor and department head and provide a completed COVID-19 Employee Reporting Questionnaire. The department head will follow up via the COVID-19 Employee Exposure Reporting Procedure.
Q2. What time can I use if I need to stay home?
Employees may qualify for benefits under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA) as summarized in the Department of Labor poster circulated to all employees on March 31, 2020 and posted in the workplaces. Questions regarding eligibility under the FFCRA should be addressed to Human Resources.
Pending a determination of eligibility under the FFCRA, employees may use annual leave or e-leave, subject to hours being retroactively re-coded if the employee is determined to be FFCRA eligible.
For employees not eligible under the FFCRA, or who have exhausted any entitlements under the FFCRA, the following principles shall apply.
- Employees may use annual leave or e-leave pending receipt of results of COVID-19 testing.
- If the employee tests positive for COVID-19, the City will retroactively re-code any annual leave or e-leave hours used while waiting for the test results as paid administrative leave, and will prospectively place the employee on paid administrative leave for a period of presumptively two weeks, or such shorter or longer period as the City determines based on subsequent testing and/or competent medical advice.If the employee is: (1) a safety employee; and (2) there is a determination of industrial causation, the employee may be placed on 4850 leave rather than administrative leave.Payment of administrative leave shall not be deemed an admission or evidence of industrial causation.
- If the employee tests negative for COVID-19, administrative leave shall not be provided either retroactively or prospectively.
Q3 How should employees properly code their timecard if they are out on FFCRA leave?
Employees will be required to code their timecards as Annual Leave until the employee’s FFCRA has been approved by Human Resources. Once approved, employees or support staff will be required to code employees time as FFCRA. Payroll will monitor the code with the understanding that only employees that have been approved through the HR process should code time to that line item. Employees should code time to annual leave or leave without pay until Human Resources has confirmed that FFCRA applies.
Q4. What if I have been directly exposed to a confirmed infected person or a person who has been tested and awaiting results?
A mandatory quarantine may be required for up to 14 days. The employee shall immediately notify the City of the test results. If the test results come back negative, the City may require the employee to return to work. Pending a determination of eligibility under the FFCRA, employees may use annual leave or e-leave, subject to hours being retroactively re-coded if the employee is determined to be FFCRA eligible.
Q5. Can I telecommute or work from home?
The City is temporarily suspending the limitation on telecommuting to exempt employees. During the pandemic, any employee (exempt or non-exempt) may seek approval of management to work from home. Approval of such requests shall be at the discretion of the department head and City Manager, based on the needs of the organization and individual circumstances.
Q6. What if I am not eligible under the FFCRA and I have no leave time or inadequate leave banks to draw from?
Supervisors/Managers may consider the following options:
- Alternate work schedules (9/80, 4/10, or 3/12).
- Alternate work hours. For example, employees may need to come in late and work later into the evenings.
(c) Alternate workweek. For example, allowing weekend duty on Saturday or Sunday, if adequate supervision is provided to subordinate staff.
(d) Reduced work schedule to a minimum of 20 hours per week if done in conjunction with voluntary furlough.
(e) General Leave of absence – approved leave with no pay.
Employees may also be eligible for FMLA and disability benefits.
Q7. Are employees still bound by the FLSA work week?
Yes. However, if approved by the employee’s department head, the employee may work an alternate work schedule as long as the employee stays within the guidelines of a 40-hour work week.
Q8. If I am quarantined or taking care of close family member who is quarantined, how do I code my timecard?
Please keep track of your time away from work with this Project #/JL Key: 57300000
Q9. How should an employee request time off for medical leave?
Medical Leave requests should be documented using the department’s standard notification procedure. The employee or supervisor/manager must notify Human Resources as soon as possible. Medical leave should be coded using Telestaff for Public Safety (Fire & Police) and Employee Online for all other employees.
Q10. Is an employee who has become infected with COVID-19 entitled to job-protected leave under FMLA?
The FMLA, as temporarily modified by the FFCRA, provides that FFCRA eligible employees may receive up to 80 hours of fully or partially paid sick leave for COVID-19 related reasons.
Independent of the FFCRA, the FMLA requires that an employer permit an “eligible employee” to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave due to the employee’s own “serious health condition” or to care for an immediate family member who has a “serious health condition.”
Subject to the temporary exceptions in the FFCRA, an “eligible employee” is defined as one who: (1) has worked for a covered employer for at least 12 months (not necessarily consecutively); (2) has been employed for at least 1,250 hours during the 12-month period immediately preceding the start of the leave; and (3) works at a location where at least 50 employees are employed by the employer within 75 miles.
A “serious health condition” is an illness, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves: (1) inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility; or (2) continuing treatment by a health care provider. By analogy, this may include COVID-19 where complications arise that create a serious medical condition, as defined under the FMLA.
Q11. Do I qualify for the new FFCRA?
Please refer to the Department of Labor poster circulated on March 31, 2020 and posted in the workplaces. Any questions should be directed to Human Resources.
Q12. What if I need to stay home to care for a sick relative?
The employee may qualify for FMLA leave, and may also qualify for benefits under the FFCRA. The employee is advised to obtain medical certification from the relative’s doctor and turn it in to Human Resources. If not covered by the FFCRA, the employee may use annual leave or e-leave.
Q13. If an employee requests time off work to avoid exposure to COVID-19, will the time off qualify for job-protected leave under the FMLA?
It depends. The employee may be covered by the FFCRA. If not, leave taken by an employee to avoid exposure would not qualify as protected leave under FMLA. FMLA provides protection to eligible employees who are incapacitated by a serious health condition or who are caring for an immediate family member incapacitated by a serious health condition.
Q14. Is an employee entitled to job-protected leave under the FMLA to care for healthy children who have been dismissed from school?
The FFCRA provides up to 12 weeks of paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave paid at 2/3 their regular rate of pay up to $200 daily and $12,000 total, for an employee caring for his or her child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) due to COVID-19 related reasons.
Q15. May an employer require an employee who is out sick with COVID-19 to provide medical certification before they are permitted to return to work?
Yes. During a pandemic health crisis, the American with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) permits employers to require an employee who is out sick to provide a doctor’s note, submit to a medical exam, or remain symptom-free for a specified amount of time before returning to work.
However, the City acknowledges that, during a pandemic, healthcare resources may be overwhelmed, and it may be difficult for employees to get appointments with doctors or other health care providers to verify they are well or no longer contagious. The City will address such circumstances on a case-by-case basis. Contact Human Resources if you have any questions.
Q16. May employers send employees home if they show symptoms of pandemic illness?
Employees exhibiting signs or symptoms of cold, flu, or COVID-19 may be sent home in order to prevent the spread of pandemic illness. See Question #2 above and the Department of Labor poster regarding paid leave.
Q17. Am I covered by Workers’ Compensation benefits if I test positive for COVID-19?
It depends. If an employee acquires COVID-19, it will only be covered by Workers’ Compensation if it is determined to be acquired during the performance of their job. In some cases, for instance with emergency medical personnel who come in contact with a COVID-19 positive patient, the determination may be more readily made. In other situations, there may be no work-related connection. Thus far, COVID-19 has not been addressed legislatively as a presumptive condition for public safety employees. Workers’ Compensation claims associated with COVID-19, like all Worker’s Compensation claims, will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Q18. How does Governor Newsom’s state-wide stay-at-home order affect me?
On March 19, 2020, the Governor ordered all individuals living in the State of California to stay home, except as needed to maintain continuity of critical infrastructure and operations. More than 160 City employees are now working from home. The City continues to carefully evaluate which employees should continue to report to work, which should work from home, and which should simply stay home, whether on standby or otherwise. All employees should stay in contact with their supervisor to receive direction in this regard.