In the past week, we’ve all be inundated with
information on the CORVID-19 virus
, also known as Coronavirus. We’ve sent out a couple of updates already, containing information on keeping your employees safe. We wanted to send out another one today, focusing on
options for employers
Here are some common questions we’ve been receiving, along with our recommendations.
Q. Can I restrict the travel of my employees?
A. Certainly you can cancel all work-related travel. If you grant an employee vacation time, then generally you should not restrict their off-duty activities. You may, however, want to impose a quarantine period upon their return.
Q. Should I send my employees home to work?
A. If you’re in CA, we would recommend following the Governor’s guidance to implement “social distancing” wherever possible. If you do allow your employees to telecommute, we suggest you use a telecommuting agreement. Also remember that CA law requires you to reimburse employees for expenses incurred in the performance of their duties. This may mean providing them with some sort of subsidy toward their home Internet expenses or the use of their own computer if that’s required.
Q. What if my employees perform jobs that cannot be performed at home?
A. You certainly can allow them to continue to work from their job site if that’s your decision. If you decide to shut down your job site, then you can send them home without work.
Q. If I send some employees home, do I have to send all of them home?
A. No, absolutely not. You must be careful you don’t discriminate based on any protected categories (race, age, gender, etc.), but you can make a business decision about whom you need working to continue to run your business.
Q. If I send my employees home, do I need to pay them?
A. If your employees work from home, then yes. They also need to comply with all meal and break requirements and other timekeeping rules. If your employee is sent home but cannot work, then no. Keep in mind that exempt employees who perform any work during the week (checking emails, answering calls, etc.) must be paid their full salary.
EDD has a
that explains different benefits. If an employee is sick and cannot work, s/he can apply for State Disability Insurance. If an employee must stay home to care for someone who is sick, s/he can apply for Paid Family Leave. If an employee has reduced or no work hours, s/he can apply for Unemployment Insurance. The good news is that the Governor’s executive order waives the usual one week waiting period. What we don’t know is whether there is any benefit for employees who need to stay home because their kids were sent home from school and they don’t have childcare.
Q. Can I require employees to bring a doctor’s note before returning to work?
A. This is a tricky one, and guidance on this may evolve as time goes on. CA law protects an employee’s use of the first three days of sick leave each year and does not allow employers to request a diagnosis. To be conservative, you would
not require a doctor’s note unless the employee has exhausted her/his paid sick leave. Plus, people who have a cold may not want to go to a doctor or be able to get an appointment. You don’t want to impose a policy that would encourage people to come to work sick. However, you could give the employee a choice between getting a doctor’s release or imposing a self-quarantine to ensure they are not contagious.
We know these are challenging times. If we can answer any questions or provide support in any way, please reach out. We're here for you!