The coronavirus has substantially affected American livelihoods because of mandatory stay-at-home orders. Unless your job is considered essential, you probably are unable to go to work.
Lowered Hours and Lost Shifts
California has implemented procedures to help alleviate some of the COVID-19-related financial burdens. Through the Employment Development Department (EED), employees who have experienced reduced hours or whose place of employment has temporarily shut down are eligible to file an Unemployment Insurance claim. Unemployment Insurance (UI) claims protect employees by providing partial wage compensation to a worker that is offered reduced hours or loses their job for reasons other than due to their own choice or misconduct. Under normal circumstances, UI benefits begin after a one-week, unpaid waiting period. However, on March 12, 2020, in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, an Executive Order was issued to waive the unpaid week, enabling employees that qualify to collect benefits immediately. Payment benefits range from $40.00 – $450.00 per week. Although the one-week unpaid period is now waived, it still might take a couple of weeks for the EDD to issue payments after approving a UI claim.
Sick and/ or Quarantined
In California, an employee who has been medically evaluated and is unable to work due to Coronavirus may be eligible for Disability Insurance (DI). Whether an employee is sick, was exposed to and/ or contracted COVID-19, he or she can file a Disability Insurance claim to help partially compensate for lost wages from being unable to work. The amount calculated for eligible employees typically makes up around 60 percent of lost wages, with the maximum weekly benefit of $1,300.00. In the past, approved DI claim payments in California were subject to the one-week unpaid waiting period, however, Governor Newsom’s Executive Order has waived the waiting period for DI benefits as well. The EDD issues payments for approved claims as quickly as possible, and according to the EDD website, payment disbursement generally occurs within a few weeks of receiving a claim.
There are a number of reasons an employer may lay off employees, especially during these unprecedented times. Because California is largely an at-will worker state (meaning an employer is generally free to fire an employee at any point), the choice to lay off workers remains in the hands of each employer. If an employee exceeds his or her allotted sick leave time, depending on one’s industry as well as place of employment, an employer may terminate an employee that is unable to fulfill his or her work duties. However, the employee may still have other job protections, such as rights under anti-disability discrimination statutes. The Coronavirus pandemic is evolving quickly, as are the directives provided by federal and California state legislatures.