Understand Your Rights as an Employee during COVID-19
2020 has been a year filled with uncertainty caused by COVID-19. If you are employed in California, it is important that you know all of your rights. While the crisis of the pandemic continues to grow, both the federal government as well as the California government have put new protections into place that protect the American worker.
On a federal level, the government passed The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) as well as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. In California, the state legislature passed Senate Bill (SB) No. 1159 and the Assembly Bill (AB) 685.
As the United States braces for another wave of the pandemic, it is crucial that you understand the protections afforded to you as an employee.
What Are Your Protections
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act
In most cases, the FFCRA affords protections for employees with respect to paid sick leave. As a full-time employee there are three types of protections for paid sick leave.
The first involves paid sick leave for up to 80 hours for an employee that is unable to work because they are following the CDC quarantine guidelines or are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
The second protection afforded is paid sick leave at two-thirds the regular rate of the employee for up to 80 hours if they are unable to work as a result of a legitimate need to take care of an individual suffering from COVID-19 or a child due to school or childcare closures.
The third protection afforded by the FFCRA is paid expanded family and medical leave for an employee that has been employed for more than 30 days, if they are unable to work due to a legitimate need to care for a child whose primary care or school was closed due to COVID related reasons. This protection allows additional leave for up to 10 weeks and provides the employee with two-thirds of their regular rate.
Being in the workplace during an ongoing pandemic can be very stressful, and fortunately the California government has put protections in place with the intentions of keeping employees safe. With Assembly Bill 685, employers are now held responsible for notifying employees of any potential exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace.
Senate Bill No. 1159
California passed SB 1159 in an effort to help protect the California worker from the uncertainty of COVID-19 in the workplace. As a worker in California, it is crucial that you feel secure and SB 1159 increases access to workers compensation for those that contract COVID-19 within fourteen days of an outbreak at work.
In order to determine an outbreak at the workplace, it must meet the below criteria:
- If the office is ordered closed by either a federal or local government entity
- If four individuals test positive for COVID- 19 at a workplace with under 100 employees
- If four percent of employees at a workplace with over 100 employees test positive for the virus