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There is no doubt that the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, has disrupted business in California, as well as throughout the United States and the world. The pandemic has brought much of the world to a halt, and many employees might wonder about their rights in this situation. The State of California Department of Industrial Relations released a memo answering some common questions for employees who cannot work due to illness or quarantine.

Can employees use paid sick leave in California for COVID-19 purposes?

Yes. If an employee has available paid sick leave, the employer must allow them to use it for certain COVID-19 purposes. This includes illness of the employee or preventative care for the employee and their family. Preventative care covers quarantine recommended by officials.

Do employees have to use their paid sick leave?

No, it is up to the employee whether they want to exhaust their paid sick leave or not. The employee also decides how much paid sick leave they want to use. However, if someone decides to use this type of leave, the employer could require they use at least two hours at a time.

Do I have to tell my employer about recent high-risk travel?

California employers DO have the right to request information about an employee’s recent or planned travel to areas that put them at high risk of contracting COVID-19. However, employees do not have the right to demand medical information about the employee. 

What if employees need to take time off for childcare due to school and daycare closures?

The options will vary depending on an employee’s situation. If a company has more than 25 employees, there might be 40 hours of leave available for school-related emergencies. Employees might also be able to use vacation or other paid leave available, including paid sick leave, as staying home with a child is considered to be preventative care. 

What if the company shuts down?

If your company has already shut down or is planning to do so, you might lose your ability to work for the time being. You can file for unemployment benefits, even if you plan to return to the previous employer when the crisis is over. If you have a job waiting for you, the requirement to seek work while receiving unemployment might be waived.

If only the physical location of your employer shuts down, and you can telework, you should still be paid for every hour worked. If you are exempt and your employer fails to provide enough work for a full work week, you should still be paid your full salary if you performed some work during the day. If an employer does not make enough work available for the week, exempt employees should still be paid if they were available for work.

Contact Our California Employment Lawyers Right Away

Many employment issues might arise from the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting shutdown of businesses across the country. If you have concerns that your employer might be violating your rights, contact the Mara Law Firm for help. Call (619) 234-2833 or contact us online to discuss your rights and options. 

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