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COVID-19 UPDATE: The Aarons Law Firm, APC remains open remotely to serve our community and assist them with their employment law needs. We can be reached via the contact form on the site, email, phone, and meetings can be handled virtually through video teleconferencing. Click here for information on what rights employees have related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Employment Rights, Protections, and Benefits in California

Schools have been closed or shut down for more than a week. The entire state of California is on a Stay at Home order as of March 19, 2020. Local bars, restaurants, gyms, movie theatres, and sporting events have also been ordered to shutter their doors. All public gatherings have been prohibited.

Employees are feeling the brunt of this pandemic and economic shut down. To try and help, the US Congress passed a new law providing benefits and protections to some workers. More, numerous California laws and benefits already exist to try and help employees weather these tough times.

Unemployment or Disability Benefits

If you have been fired, laid off, or sent home from work on leave without pay, you can apply for unemployment benefits through California’s Employment Development Department (“EDD”).

If you are at home taking care of children due to school closures or can’t work due to taking care of a sick or quarantined family member you too are eligible for unemployment.

If your hours have been reduced, you’re home taking care of a family member, or your employer has shut down operations because of the coronavirus, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits that range from $40 to $450 per week.

If you’re unable to work due to having or being exposed to COVID-19 (certified by a medical professional), you can file a Disability Insurance (DI) claim. Benefits are about 60 to 70 percent of wages (depending on your income) and can range from $50 to $1,300 per week.

More, the Governor’s Executive Order of March 12, 2020 waived the one-week unpaid waiting period. So an employee can collect their unemployment or disability benefits for the first week they are out of work.

Contact the EDD and file a claim with California’s Employment Development Department.

Here is a link to the California EDD website where you can find more information and answers to your questions.

Sick Pay and Leaves

Under the California Law called The Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 employers are required to provide 24 hours (3 days) of paid sick days per year. In Los Angeles, employers are required to provide 48 hours (6 days) per year.

Other Leave Due to School Issues

If your worksite has 25 or more employees, you are able to take off up to 40 hours each year for school events or to address childcare or school emergencies. A school emergency includes school closures and natural disasters. More, under this law, if an employer fires, threatens to fire, demotes, suspends or takes any other discriminatory actions against you, then you as the employee are entitled to reinstatement and reimbursement for lost wages and benefits. In some cases, you may even be eligible to recover a civil penalty against the employer for up to three times your lost wages and benefits. CA Labor Code § 230.8.

California Paid Family Leave

Under the Paid Family Leave Act, a worker who has lost wages because they need to take time off of work to care for “a seriously ill child, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, registered domestic partner, or to bond with a new child entering the family through birth, adoption, or foster care placement, may be eligible for Paid Family Leave (PFL) benefits.” The benefit amounts range from $500 to $1,000 per week and are about 60% to 70% of your wages from the past 5 to 18 months before your claim starts.

Here is a link for How to File a PFL Claim.

“Families First Coronavirus Response Act” (“Families First”)

The Families First Act goes into effect on April 2, 2020 and provides an expansion of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) through the end of 2020. There are two different parts of this law: (1) Emergency Family and Medical Leave and (2) Emergency Paid Sick Leave.

Under both parts of the Families First Act employers with 25 or more employees are required to return the employee to the same position when the leave ends and cannot terminate or discriminate against an employee for having taken or requested the leave. The only exemption is for employers with less than 25 employees if: (1) The position no longer exists due to economic conditions or other changes in the employer’s operating conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic; and (2) The employer makes reasonable efforts to restore the employee to an equivalent position.

(1) Emergency Family and Medical Leave

Who does this law cover?

  • If you have been employed for 30 days and your employer has fewer than 500 employees or is a governmental entity.
  • Employees who are “unable to work (or telework) due to a need for leave to care for the son or daughter under 18 years of age of such employee if the school or place of care has been closed, or the child care provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to a public health emergency.”

Are certain employers exempt?

Yes. Employers with more than 500 employees, health care providers and emergency responders are exempt. Also, small businesses with less than 50 employees may be exempt if “compliance would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.”

What types of leaves are covered?

Employees who are “unable to work (or telework) due to a need for leave to care for the son or daughter under 18 years of age of such employee if the school or place of care has been closed, or the child care provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to a public health emergency.”

How much leave do I get and how much do I get paid?

  • 12 weeks of paid leave
  • The first 10 days of the lave may be unpaid. (Employees can use vacation or sick time for these first ten days).
  • Pay à employees taking leave are entitled to pay at 2/3 their regular rate or 2/3 the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $200 per day and $12,000 in the aggregate (over a 12-week period).
(2) Emergency Paid Sick Leave

Who does this law cover?

  • If you have been employed for 30 days and your employer has fewer than 500 employees or is a governmental entity.
  • Employees who are “unable to work (or telework) due to a need for leave to care for the son or daughter under 18 years of age of such employee if the school or place of care has been closed, or the child care provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to a public health emergency.”

Are certain employers exempt?

Small businesses with less than 50 employees may be exempt from providing paid sick leave for an employee caring for a child if their school is closed or a childcare provider is unavailable “when the imposition of providing the leave would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.”

What types of leaves are covered and how much do I get paid?

Full-time, covered employees are entitled to 80 hours of paid sick leave.

Part-time employees are entitled to their average number of hours worked in a two-week period.

Employees cannot be required to use other paid leave before using sick time under this Act.

According to the United States Department of Labor, an employee qualifies if they are unable to work/tele-work because the employee:

Reason for Leave

Amount of Pay

1. The employee is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;

An employee’s regular rate or the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate

2. The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;

An employee’s regular rate or the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate

3. The employee is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;

An employee’s regular rate or the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate

4. The employee is caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) or self-quarantine as described in (2);

2/3 of an employee’s regular rate or 2/3 the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate

5. The employee is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or childcare provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19; or

2/3 of an employee’s regular rate or 2/3 the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $200 per day and $12,000 in the aggregate

6. The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Treasury.

2/3 of an employee’s regular rate or 2/3 the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate

Employers are prohibited from (1) requiring workers to find replacements to cover their hours during time off, or (2) discharging or discriminating against workers for requesting paid sick leave or filing a complaint against the employer related to such.

What if I was Fired:

California law requires that a laid-off employee be given a final paycheck — including compensation for any unused paid time off — at the time of termination. An employee who doesn’t receive such final pay can file a complaint with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.

Anti-Retaliation à It is against the law for an employer to retaliate against an employee for taking a legally protected leave of absence. If you believe you have been retaliated against for taking a legally protected leave, you may be able to file a claim against your employer in civil court.

Resources

California EDD About Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Resources for Employers and Workers in California

CA Department of Industrial Relations - Paid sick leave

California Department of Public Health - COVID-19 Updates Page

Los Angeles County Safer at Home Order - March 19, 2020

List of “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers”

State of California Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response

US Dept. of Homeland Security – Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers

Client Reviews
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What can I not say about this guy? I had an issue regarding employment law and out of the gate, he was attentative and not trying to over talk me! All of my questions were answered and his advisement was second to none! Secondly and unlike other attorneys, my needs were more important than fees! Kudos to Martin! Personal Client
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Martin is an amazing attorney. It was great having him in my corner, as fear isn't part of his vocabulary. Intelligent, tenacious and trustworthy--never wavering or accepting anything less than justice. If you need an employment attorney then I recommend you give him a call. Employment Client