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COVID-19 Employee Resource Center

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COVID-19 is causing fast changes in the law. Stay up to date in this COVID-19 frequently asked questions page.

Updated July 28, 2021.

If an employee is terminated, they generally have to be paid on the same day of their termination. Otherwise, the employer could be subject to waiting time penalties.

No. Employers cannot require employees to sign a release of any sort in order to get their last paycheck. The employee can simply demand the check.

No. That is a form of workplace discrimination and harassment. The employee should complain to HR or a supervisor in writing.

That could be legal since the employer may not want to expose others to the virus. Knowingly exposing others to coronavirus could subject them to liability.

Yes, however the employer should make certain accommodations. If there are no accommodations possible for employees who will not be vaccinated, then it may be OK to exclude such employees from working in the actual workplace. In regard to requiring a vaccine, an employer can require employees to receive an FDA approved vaccination for COVID-19. However, it’s important to not discriminate or harass employees on the basis of any protective characteristic, including serious religious beliefs, as well as providing a reasonable accommodation for a disability. Also, the employer should not retaliate against anyone engaging in a protected activity, like requesting a reasonable accommodation.

Maybe. If your employer has five or more employees, they have to make a reasonable accommodation for the disability if the employer knows about the disability. However, there are exceptions to this rule. If your employer can show after engaging in the interactive process that an accommodation would give an undue hardship for the business, that the employee is unable to perform the essential duties even with a reasonable accommodation, or the employee cannot engage in those duties in a manner that would not endanger their health or safety or of others, then the employer may not have to provide a reasonable accommodation.

You may be entitled to up to 12 weeks of job protected leave under the CFRA if you have a serious health condition or you have to take care of certain family members (like a child, parent, or spouse).

Yes. The Fair Employment and Housing Act mandates that employers reasonably accommodate employees’ known sincerely-held religious beliefs and practices. If an employer requires vaccination and the employee objects based on a sincerely held religious belief or practice, then the employer must reasonably accommodate the employee and they cannot retaliate against the employer for requesting such an accommodation. The best course of action is for the employer to engage in some kind of interactive process with the employee that resembles the interactive process in a disability context. A reasonable accommodation can help alleviate the conflict between the religious belief and the vaccination requirements, which could include job restructuring, reassignment, or changing the work practice. However, if this is going to cause the employer and undue hardship, then the employee can be terminated.

No. Cal/OSHA’s Amendment on June 17, 2021 to the November 2020 emergency regulations are authoritative in this context. Additionally, the Department of Public Health of Los Angeles County on July 15, 2021 requires Everyone indoors to wear masks starting 11:59 PM on Saturday, July 17, regardless of vaccination status.

Yes. Employers can have policies that are more strict than Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS). However, there may be requirements for accommodations for those (1) who are unable to wear face coverings due to a medical or mental health condition or disability, or (2) those who are hearing impaired or communicating with a person who is hearing impaired.

Yes. And employer cannot retaliate against an employee for wearing a face covering, even if it’s just voluntary.

Maybe. If there are mandates that reduce density in the workplace, then your employer may be required to ensure that social distancing is in place. Some employees who are higher risk for COVID-19 may be entitled to work from home as a reasonable accommodation under state and federal disability laws.

If your employer requires you to obtain a COVID-19 test or vaccine, then your employer must pay you for the time it takes for the test or vaccine, as well as the travel time. However, this should be done during “hours worked,” meaning the time that you were under the control of the employer.

Additionally, you may be able to use “sick leave” in order to obtain preventive care.

Yes. If your employer requires you to obtain a COVID-19 test or vaccine as part of the job, then the employer must pay for the costs of the test or vaccine as a reimbursement of a business expense. You should ask your employer which site you should go to so you can try and prevent a dispute over the amount of the expense. You may also be entitled to reimbursement for travel-related expenses, such as gas.

If you are seeking a reasonable accommodation, if you have a sincerely-held religious belief, or if you engage in other protected activities, your employer cannot retaliate against you. This is covered under the Fair Employment and Housing Act.

If you contracted COVID-19 from work, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Employees should stay home to reduce the spread of the virus. There is a new rebuttable presumption that COVID-19 is an occupational illness.

Helpful Links

COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards Frequently Asked Questions: https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/coronavirus/COVID19FAQs.html#workCases

Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Guidance and Resources: https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/coronavirus/

California Coronavirus Page: https://covid19.ca.gov/

COVID-19 Testing and Vaccine FAQs: https://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/COVID19resources/FAQs-Testing-Vaccine.html

Senate Bill No. 1159: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201920200SB1159 

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