COVID-19: 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
- 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. The City is carefully evaluating 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.
- 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 must obtain a medical release to return-to-work or be asymptomatic for at least 24 hours. If you are sick for 3 days, or more, the City may require the employee to provide medical certification.
- What time can I use if I need to stay home and can’t work?
Employees may use annual leave or e-leave if they are symptomatic, quarantined or caring for a close family member who is ill with COVID-19. See Question 10 below for certain limited exceptions.
- What if I have been directly exposed to a confirmed infected person or a person who has been tested and awaiting results?
The City may require a mandatory quarantine for up to 14 days. The employee must 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. The employee may use annual leave or e-leave.
- Can I telecommute or work from home?
Yes! The City is temporarily suspending the limitation on telecommuting to exempt employees. During the pandemic, any employee (exempt or non-exempt) may work from home with approval of the department head and City Manager, where operationally necessary and feasible. Contact your supervisor to request approval. They can work with IT to get you set up.
- What if 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- Is an employee who has become infected with COVID-19 entitled to job-protected leave under FMLA?
It depends. 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 limited exceptions, 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.
- Do I qualify for the new Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act?
The federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA), signed into law on March 18, 2020 and becomes effective 15 days later. It requires employers to provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave for each full-time employee (amount prorated for part-time employees) if the employee is unable to work (or telework) because the employee:
a. Is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
b. Has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 related concerns;
c. Is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis;
d. Is caring for an individual who meets the specifications in (1) or (2) above;
e. Is caring for a son or daughter if the school or place of care has been closed or the child care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 precautions; or
f. Is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.
Compensation under the EPSLA is subject to certain hourly, daily, and aggregate limits depending on which of the six situations applies.
Compensation for sick leave granted for reasons listed in (a), (b), or (c) above are to be based on the employee’s regular rate of pay (not less than applicable minimum wage), but shall not exceed $511 per day or $5,110 in the aggregate.
Compensation for reasons listed in (d), (e), or (f) above shall be 2/3 of the regular rate of pay and shall not exceed $200 per day or $2,000 in the aggregate.
- What if I need to stay home to care for a sick relative?
The employee may qualify for FMLA leave. The employee is advised to obtain medical certification from the relative’s doctor and turn it in to Human Resources. The employee may use annual leave or e-leave.
- 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?
No. 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.
- Is an employee entitled to job-protected leave under the FMLA to care for healthy children who have been dismissed from school?
The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) establishes emergency job protected leave under FMLA when an employee is unable to work (or telework) due to a need to care for a minor son or daughter if the school or place of care has been closed or the child care provider is unavailable due to a public health emergency.
The EFMLEA provides for partial payment of regular pay after the first 10 days, and is available to employees who have been employed by the employer for at least 30 calendar days.
The employer is required to pay 2/3 of the employee’s regular rate of pay for the hours the employee would normally be scheduled to work, but not to exceed $200 per day and $10,000 in the aggregate.
- 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.
- 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. Employees who are sent home will be able to use annual leave or e-leave.
- 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.
What should an employee do if they believe they have had an exposure to COVID-19?