COVID-19 Member Resources: California

COVID-19 Member Resources: California

To our colleagues:

The COVID-19 outbreak is an unprecedented public health crisis. We are here to help.

As union members you have many important protections against what we call “unilateral changes” to the terms and conditions of your work under our contract. When negotiating our contracts, we go to great lengths to define and control these terms and conditions so that you remain safe, healthy, and compensated fairly at work.

During emergencies, employers often seek to implement significant changes. While we might decide to agree some of them are reasonable in order to keep operations afloat, in ALL cases it is imperative that employers bargain with us, first over the decision to alter terms and conditions, and second, over the implementation of those changes. This is important so that we maintain the vital protections we’ve fought hard to win over the years, and so that your needs are considered, along with the company’s, even during a crisis.

With that said, please take this time to look over your contract and discuss with your unit officers. If your employer is seeking to make any significant changes to work as a result of COVID-19, please contact the Local immediately.

As we work through this crisis together, you might find yourself in a situation where you fear your hours will be cut. We will fiercely protect your rights in this case. You might also find yourself in a situation where you are unable to work because you’re sick or caring for a loved one. We’ve outlined the state and federal resources available to you in these situations.  (Please let us know if you want to discuss this material together – everyone’s getting a lot of information right now!) If you do take leave for any reason, reach out to your unit officers for steward representation through the process.

The following resources will be updated continuously. Check back often.

Questions for us? Email Michael Applegate or Derek Moore.

RESOURCES

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PLEASE NOTE: If you are a member of a Hawai’i Guild unit, please follow this link to the same information for Hawaii.

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE/ PARTIAL UI

Use When:

You’ve lost your job or had hours reduced for reasons related to COVID-19

General Eligibility

  1. Minimum past earnings threshold (Formula found here)
  2. Job loss/ hours reduction must be “no fault” (includes quit for “good cause”)
  3. Actively seeking work and physically able to work (“Actively seeking work” requirement waived for certain EEs)

* Undocumented workers not eligible for unemployment insurance

Expanded COVID Eligibility

  • All workers who experience job loss/ hours reduction “for reasons related to COVID-19”
  • Workers who are temporarily unemployed due to COVID-19 and expect to return to work with their same Employer within a few weeks are not required to actively seek work
  • BUT must remain able, available, and ready to work during their unemployment
  • Includes self-employed workers, independent contractors, gig workers, freelancers, workers seeking part-time work, workers who do not have a long enough work history to qualify for state UI benefits, and workers who have exhausted their state UI benefits.

Benefit Details

  • Usual calculated benefit plus an additional $600 per week in compensation through July 31, 2020.
  • Benefits calculator here
  • DOL: expect your first unemployment check two or three weeks after you apply.
  • Typically Californians would not receive unemployment their first week off the job, but the state has waived this normal 1-week waiting period. During COVID-19, you will be paid for your first week of unemployment or reduced hours.
  • Pandemic unemployment expansion provides an additional 13 weeks of state UI benefits, after the regular 26 weeks are exhausted.

How to File

  • File online for the quickest processing time. Information here.
  • Use the UI Checklist for collecting the information necessary to apply for benefits.
  • For English call 1-800-300-5616. For Spanish, 1-800-326-8937.

DISABILITY INSURANCE

Use When:

Unable to work due to medical quarantine or illness related to COVID-19

General Eligibility

  • Lost wages because of disability
    • Employed or actively looking for work at the time of disability
    • Unable to do regular work for at least 8 consecutive days
    • Minimum past earnings requirement
  • Under care and treatment of a licensed doctor/ religious practitioner
  • Make a claim within 49 days of the date you became disabled

* Citizenship and immigration status do not affect eligibility

Expanded COVID Eligibility

  • Unable to work “due to medical quarantine or illness”
  • Illness must be “related to” COVID-19
  • Must be certified by a medical professional

Benefit Details

  • Approximately 60 to 70 percent of wages (depending on income)
  • Ranges from $50-$1,300 a week for up to 52 weeks

How to File

SDI Online portal here

PAID FAMILY LEAVE

Use When

Unable to work because you are caring for an ill or quarantined family member

General Eligibility

  • Full or partial lost wages due to care for sick family member/ bonding with new child
    • Employed or actively looking for work at the time leave begins
    • Unable to do regular or customary work
    • Minimum past earnings requirement
  • Submit claim no later than 41 days after leave begins

* Citizenship and immigration status do not affect eligibility

Expanded COVID Eligibility

  • “Caring for an ill or quarantined family member with COVID-19”. Diagnosis must be certified by a medical provider.
  • Includes paid leave needed to care for a minor child whose school or care provider is closed or unavailable because of coronavirus, at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay.
  • Employees must have been employed by their current employer for at least 30 calendar days before going out on PFML.

Details

  • Up to 6 weeks (8 weeks starting July 1) of benefit payments to eligible workers at 60-70% of wages (depends on income)
  • Ranges from $50 to $1,300 a week
  • Pay is provided by the employer.

How to File

Must request leave from employer and apply for payment through EDD at SDI Online

PAID SICK LEAVE

Use When

You or a family member is sick or under quarantine

General Eligibility

  • Employee must:
    • Work for same Employer for at least 30 days w/in a year in CA
    • Satisfy a 90-day employment period before taking any sick leave
  • Collective bargaining agreement exception (must have paid sick provision)
  • CA law requires employers to provide up to 3 days of paid sick leave a year.

* Undocumented workers generally eligible to make wage claims

Expanded COVID Eligibility

  • Employee or a family member is suffering from COVID-19
  • OR for preventative care when civil authorities recommend quarantine
  • FFCRA provides for up to 80 additional hours of paid sick leave, if qualified for reasons related to COVID-19.
  • All employees of covered employers (0-500 employees) are eligible for 2 weeks of paid sick time for specific reasons related to COVID-19. Employers with fewer than 50 employees may apply for an exemption.

Details

  • Paid at regular rate of pay or an average based on the past 90 days
  • Employer can use “accrual formula” method or “up front” method
    • Accrual = 1 hour of paid sick leave per 30 hours of work
    • “Up front” = pool of 24 hours (3 days) per year
  • Even under accrual method, Employer can limit “use” to 24 hours/ year
  • ER can also enforce 48-hour cap on accrual

How to File

  • Instructions here
  • Must file claim for sick leave violations within 3 years

WORKERS COMPENSATION

Use When

Unable to work because you contracted COVID-19 during regular course of work. Consult with the union for advice when deciding whether to file for Workers Comp or Disability.

General Eligibility

All workers who are injured on the job & are unable to perform normal work

* Citizenship and immigration status do not affect eligibility

COVID Eligibility

Exposed to and contracted COVID-19 during the regular course of your work

Details

  • Temporary disability (TD) payments for COVID-19 exposure
    • TD benefits begin when:
      1. (Cannot do usual work for more than 3 days; or
      2. Hospitalized overnight
    • TD benefits stop when:
      1. Return to work;
      2. Doctor releases you for work; or
      3. Doctor says illness has improved “as much as it’s going to”
      4. “Maximum Medical Improvement”
      5. Not sure how this applies in COVID context
  • May be entitled to TD for up to 104 weeks
  • Pays 2/3 of lost gross wages while recovering, up to max legal amount
  • Eligible employees are entitled to medical treatment and additional payments if a doctor determines EE suffered a “permanent disability” because of the illness

How to File

  • Submit claim form to Employer
  • Instructions here

Additional resources:

Author Image
Michael Applegate

Pacific Media Workers Executive Officer