Two hands stretching out toward each other as if to lift each other up by Youssef Naddam on Unsplash

COVID-19 RESOURCES FOR EMPLOYEES: Sick Leave, Benefits, Leave, & Unemployment

ABL will compile all COVID-19-related resources and information for California employees here. As information and resources are updated, we will update this page and note the changes with corresponding dates. If you are a business owner (including freelancer/contractor), also check out our resources page for small business owners & employers here.

ABL attorneys are available for half-hour consultations about COVID-19-related issues. To book a meeting, click here: https://abl.as.me/covid19

Attorney Galia Schmidt is co-hosting a free weekly update + FAQ webinar with our friends at the SF LGBT center every Thursday at 1 PM. Info and register here:

CURRENT AS OF: May 21, 2020

Financial Support:

If you’ve been laid off, had hours cut, or can’t work due to illness, stay-at-home, or caring for your loved ones (including kids who can no longer go to school or daycare), these financial resources may be available to you:

  • –Federal CARES Act will send $1,200 tax rebates to individuals, plus $500 per qualifying child 16 or under. Amount phases out if you made over $75,000 separate or $150,000 joint. If IRS already has your bank account info, will direct deposit within approx 3 weeks. Check the status of your rebate here.
  • –You may be eligible for unemployment insurance if you’ve been terminated, had your hours cut, or if you’re self-employed. The federal CARES act also mandated an additional $600 and extra weeks of benefits on top of what you would have received from California, which is now available. Info and apply at the EDD: https://www.edd.ca.gov/about_edd/coronavirus-2019.htm 
  • California paid sick leave: the state of California and some cities require paid sick leave. You will have already accrued this. It is available only if you’ve worked at your job for 90 days. You may use this if you’re sick or if you have to stay home due to stay-at-home and are unable to work because of it.
    • –Update 4/16: The federal sick leave, below, is only available to workers who work at companies with 500 or fewer workers. California just made two extra weeks available to workers who work in the food sector industry and whose companies are too large to make them eligible for the federal leave. Includes: farm and ag workers, grocery stores, fast food chains, and delivery drivers.
    • –California now mandates additional sick leave for certain food sector essential workers who work at employers with 500+ employees and would not be otherwise eligible for the federal sick leave below.
  • Federal paid sick leave: up to 80 additional hours of paid sick leave must be made available to workers due to Coronavirus-related reasons
  • California Paid Family Leave: available for people who are caring for an ill or quarantined family member. Can receive six weeks of benefits, 60-70% of pay. One-week waiting period has been waived. Apply online at the EDD: https://www.edd.ca.gov/Disability/How_to_File_a_PFL_Claim_in_SDI_Online.htm
  • State Disability Insurance: available for sick of self-quarantined workers. Receive 60-70% of pay, between $50-$1300/week. Apply online at the EDD: https://www.edd.ca.gov/Disability/How_to_File_a_DI_Claim_in_SDI_Online.htm
  • Federal expansion of job-protected leave: The Families First Act expanded your ability to receive up to 12 weeks of paid leave due to being unable to work due to your need to care for a minor child. Job-protected.
  • –See this chart for benefits you may be eligible for: https://www.labor.ca.gov/coronavirus2019/#chart
  • California and federal tax payment and filing deadline extended to July 15.
  • –Penalty of early withdrawal of retirement accounts waived; can repay over 3 years
  • –Student loans:
    • –Federal student loans are currently not accruing interest. No action is required for this 0% rate to apply. More info here: https://navient.com/covid-19.
    • –Automatic payment suspensions for federal student loans until Sept 30
    • –There are also Emergency Disaster Forbearances available.
    • –Most lenders of private student loans are now offering forbearances; reach out to your lender directly to see what they’re offering.
  • –You can receive workers comp coverage if you contracted COVID-19 at work
  • –Some local areas are providing their own relief funds. Check your city and county. Oakland, Berkeley.
  • If you’re seeking a job, California launched onwardca.org to match job seekers with employers. Initial jobs mainly in agriculture, logistics, transportation, and grocery. Many grocery stores are also hiring directly.

Your Rights in the Workplace:

  • –You have a right to protect your personal health information from your employer. However, if you show symptoms of being sick, your employer may ask questions and take precautions.
  • –Even if working from home, you still have the rights to minimum wage, breaks, and overtime. You’re also entitled to reimbursement for all work-related expenses, including all reasonable and necessary expenses that allow you to work from home.
  • –Good FAQ about employment laws at https://legalaidatwork.org/factsheet/coronavirus-faq/
  • –In CA, essential workers are required to be able to wash hands at least every 30 minutes or as needed.
  • –In Alameda County, and many other California counties, masks are now required outside when people are around, and when working. You must refuse to give service to any customers who are not wearing a mask. Your employer must let you use a mask (and you are required to wear one) when interacting with other people at work, or when in a location (such as reception area or bathroom) where other people often enter.

Personal Resources:

If you’re in Oakland, Beat 30X Crime Prevention Council has put together a list of local resources.

Housing resources:

  • –Congress passed foreclosure and eviction moratorium for single family homeowners with FHA insured mortgages, and bar on evictions
  • –California-wide delay on eviction actions; some cities (including LA, Oakland, SF) have more fleshed out and specific moratoriums for residential and/or commercial. Most allow temporary delay in payment with specific notice to the landlord; payment still due later. Nonpayment must be due to financial hardship caused by COVID-19. Bay Area info here.  Statewide commercial info here.
  • –Alameda County broadened its residential eviction moratorium, and bans no-cause evictions and most just-cause evictions. Evictions still allowed for criminal behavior, health and safety reasons, as well as if landlord is going out of rental business and plans to take the unit off market. Tenants have 12 months to pay back overdue rent, unless landlord and tenant come to another agreement.
  • –Most major banks have agreed to allow residential property owners to miss mortgage payments for 90 days
  • –Utilities: Electricity, gas, and water will not be shut off for CA tenants and homeowners; most cell phone carries and internet providers have pledged to continue providing internet and data to people unable to pay bills; parking enforcement is halted in many cities
  • –Comcast has given its customers unlimited data at no additional cost, and is making all Xfinity wifi hotspots free to everyone. If you can’t pay your Comcast bill, call them to ensure they will not cut off your service or charge you a late fee.
  • –San Francisco: check out the Workers and Family First Program, which can help offset the cost of paid leave to workers once your paid sick leave is exhausted. More info and apply here: https://oewd.org/assistance-guidance-businesses-and-workers-impacted-covid-19#Paid%20Sick%20Leave%20-%20Employers
  • –Oakland: check out Keep Oakland Housed if you need emergency financial assistance with rent or utilities: https://www.keepoaklandhoused.org/
  • –These services will be uninterrupted and re-determinations of eligibility will be waived for 90 days: Medi-Cal, CalFresh, CalWorks, Cash Assistance for Immigrants, and In-Home Support Services
  • –Your credit score won’t be impacted for things like non-payment of mortgage or other bills if non-payment was consistent with applicable guidelines for taking advantage of COVID-19 relief programs
  • –California has ordered car insurers to provide premium refunds, premium credit, reduction, or other adjustments to customers now that people are driving far less. Will be enforced no later than August. Inquire with your insurer.

Childcare resources:

  • –Daycare is still available for children of parents working in essential sectors. People working in essential sectors may also have a babysitter come to their house. If you need help finding daycare, BANANAS is offering referral services.
  • –San Francisco: the libraries and rec & park departments are acting as Emergency Youth Care Centers. By invitation only, for disaster service workers. See https://www.dcyf.org/care
  • –CA executive order is taking steps to ensure childcare is available for essential workers
  • –CA is allocating $50 million for loans to small businesses and individuals who don’t qualify for federal funds, including low-income and undocumented immigrant communities. Stay tuned for details.
  • –CA has a new online portal that includes “pop up” care centers; search for location by zip code here

Health and Food:

  • –Search HERE for nearby Covid-19 testing sites
  • –Covered California enrollment extended to June 30
  • –Medi-Cal/CalWORKs recipients: 90 day annual redetermination is waived for 90 days, so if you currently receive benefits, they will continue. New applicants can waive certain paperwork requirements including citizenship docs.
  • –CalFresh food assistance: if you qualify, applications can be done online, getcalfresh.org. If you already receive benefits, you don’t need to recertify and will keep coverage through May. CalFresh EBT cards now allow grocery purchases from Walmart and Amazon
  • –Bay Area: school districts in San Leandro, Alameda, Oakland providing meals for students and all children under 18. Alameda County Food Bank remains operational
  • –Bay Area: AC Transit suspending fares. BART changed hours again so check online for latest. SF Muni has expanded service slightly.
  • Support for older Californians: statewide hotline at 833-544-2374 connects older Californians with resources to essential services like food and medication. CA and FEMA are providing seniors with three nutritious meals a day.
  • Testing for certain essential workers in Oakland. Drive-through at Henry J Kaiser Convention Center. For people who work at healthcare providers (hospitals, clinics, community health centers); grocery stores/food banks; homeless service providers (shelter and outreach); funeral home providers; childcare facilities; residential facilities and shelters (seniors, adults, and children).
  • This resource list has details on additional housing, health, and food resources throughout the Bay Area.

Mental Health:

Photo by youssef naddam on Unsplash