California COVID-19 Worker Protections & Rights

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As a worker in California, you have workplace protections. There are resources available to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 at work and protect your health, regardless of your immigration status. Explore the information provided here to learn more about your workplace protections and find answers to work-related COVID-19 questions. 

Recent updates

 

 

COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards

These pages are being updated to reflect the latest revisions of the COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards. The workplace standards were updated in May 2022. The revisions are in effect until December 31, 2022. More information on the recent revisions to the COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards is available on Cal/OSHA's Frequently Asked Questions.

 

 

 

2022 COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Signed into Law February 9, 2022 – retroactive to January 1, 2022.

2022 COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (2022 SPSL) provides covered employees up to 80 hours of COVID-19 related paid leave, with up to 40 of those hours for isolation & quarantine, receiving vaccines, and caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed and up to an additional 40 of those hours available only when an employee, or family member for whom the employee provides care, tests positive for COVID-19.

This site is being updated to include further information on 2022 SPSL. In the meantime, for more information on 2022 SPSL you can review the 2022 SPSL FAQs. Also, to determine if you are eligible to take this leave, please visit the Labor Commissioner’s 2022 COVID-19 California Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Eligibility Navigator.

 

 

I want to be safer and healthier at work

I may be sick or exposed to COVID-19

COVID-19 Worker Benefits and Leave Navigator

Independent Contractor / Worker Misclassification

Supplemental Paid Sick Leave: Eligibility Navigator

COVID-19 Vaccines in the Workplace

Wildfire Smoke and Heat Illness

Training and Resources

COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards

Food, Housing, and Childcare Resources

Who to contact

Learn about benefits for workers 

COVID-19 Worker Benefits and Leave Navigator

There are several benefits available to workers impacted by COVID-19. This navigator assesses your eligibility for benefits that can provide job-protected leave or pay related to COVID-19.

COVID-19 Worker Benefits and Leave Navigator

 

 

Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Eligibility Navigator

The navigator tool helps workers and employers confirm if they are eligible for COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave (SPSL) by answering short simple questions on the impact COVID-19 is having on an employee’s ability to work.

Start SPSL Eligibility Navigator

Vaccines in the workplace

May an employer require its employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19?

Under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), an employer may require employees to receive an FDA-approved vaccination against COVID-19 infection so long as the employer does not discriminate against or harass employees or job applicants on the basis of a protected characteristic, provides reasonable accommodations related to disability or sincerely-held religious beliefs or practices, and does not retaliate against anyone for engaging in protected activity (such as requesting a reasonable accommodation).

Department of Fair Employment and Housing Information on COVID-19 regarding Vaccinations

May a business require customers to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 and/or proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test before permitting entry into the business?

Yes, the Unruh Civil Rights Act permits businesses to implement rules that protect employees and customers from COVID-19 infection. Please note that the business can’t ask only certain type of customers to show proof of vaccination and/or a recent negative COVID-19 test if it’s done so based on a personal characteristic protected by the Unruh Civil Rights Act. Please consult DFEH’s Guidance regarding COVID-19 safety measures and reasonable accommodations for important information about reasonable accommodations as well.

Is an employer required to compensate a worker for the time spent obtaining a COVID-19 test or vaccination?

If the employer requires an employee to obtain a COVID-19 test or vaccination (see Department of Fair Employment and Housing FAQs for guidance on the types of COVID-19 tests an employer may require and on vaccination), then the employer must pay for the time it takes for the testing or vaccination, including travel time.

The employer must pay for the time it takes for testing or vaccination because such time would constitute “hours worked.” The term “hours worked” means the time during which a worker is subject to the control of an employer, and includes all the time the worker is suffered or permitted to work, whether or not required to do so. Under this definition, one way to determine whether time a worker spends performing a task must be paid as time worked is whether the employer exercised control over the worker by requiring the worker to perform that task. If an employer requires that a worker obtain a medical test or vaccination, the time associated with completing the medical test or vaccination, including any time traveling and waiting for the test or vaccination to be performed, would constitute time worked. However, unless otherwise required, the time spent waiting for COVID-19 test results is not compensable as hours worked, although the worker may be able to utilize paid leave while waiting for the results.

An employer cannot require the worker to utilize paid leave if the time is considered “hours worked” as referenced above.
If the time is not considered “hours worked,” the worker may be able to utilize the worker’s paid leave for time off from work to obtain testing or vaccination. Regular paid sick leave may be used for preventive care, which includes medical testing and vaccines, for the employee or the employee’s family members, and is protected against retaliation under the Labor Code.

Are employees allowed to know if their coworkers have not been vaccinated?

Any record of employee or applicant vaccination must be maintained as a confidential medical record.

Who is eligible for booster vaccinations?

Please see CDPH’s COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Questions and Answers for the latest list of eligible groups.

When should I receive a booster dose?

Everyone aged 12 and older should receive a first booster dose following completion of their primary vaccine series. You may receive the booster dose of your choice, but mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer or Moderna) are preferred over the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

The following groups may receive a second booster dose of an mRNA vaccine four months after completion of their first booster dose: Those aged 50 and older; If immunocompromised, those aged 12 and older; Those aged 18-49 who received two doses of Johnson & Johnson.

For more information on booster vaccinations, please see CDPH’s COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Questions and Answers.

 

Which vaccines are covered by the emergency use authorization for booster doses?

All three widely available COVID-19 vaccines have been granted an extended EUA to allow for booster vaccine doses for specific populations, but mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer or Moderna) are preferred over the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

For more information on booster vaccinations, please see CDPH’s COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Questions and Answers.

 

Where can I learn more about vaccine boosters?

Please see CDPH’s COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Questions and Answers for the latest information on boosters.

 

 

Where can I get a digital copy of my COVID-19 vaccine record?

You can now get a digital copy of your vaccination record. It’s available to you if:

  • You got vaccinated in California, and 
  • Your information matches what is recorded in the state’s immunization systems.  

To get your vaccine record:

Can I get vaccinated against COVID-19 while I am currently sick with COVID-19?

No. Wait until you have recovered and have met the criteria for ending isolation. This guidance also applies to people who get COVID-19 between their first and second dose.

For more information on COVID19 vaccines, please visit covid19.ca.gov/vaccines/

COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards

What is the status of the ETS?

The COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards are still in effect. The workplace standards were updated in May 2022. The revisions are in effect until December 31, 2022. More information on the COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards is available in Cal/OSHA's Frequently Asked Questions.

 

Who is affected by the ETS?

The ETS applies to all employers, employees, and to all places of employment with the following exceptions:

  • Work locations where there is only one employee who does not have contact with other people.
  • Employees who are working from home.
  • Employees who are covered by the Aerosol Transmissible Diseases regulation.
  • Employees working from a location chosen by the employee, which is not under the control of the employer (for instance, an employee teleworking from a café or a friend’s home)

Learn more about the ETS scope of coverage.

Are all physical distancing requirements in the revised ETS gone?

There are no physical distancing or barrier requirements in the workplace regardless of employee vaccination status with the following exceptions:

  • During an outbreak (three or more employees in an exposed group), employers are required to evaluate whether physical distancing is necessary to control the transmission of COVID-19.
  • Physical distancing must be used in a major outbreak (20 or more employees in an exposed group) for all employees, regardless of vaccination status except when an employer demonstrates that maintaining six feet of distance is not feasible. When it is not feasible to maintain six feet of distance, persons must be as far apart as feasible.
  • Employers are under an ongoing requirement to assess workplace hazards and implement controls to prevent transmission of disease. There may be circumstances in which employers determine that physical distancing is necessary in their workplace.

As described above, physical distancing is sometimes required, for a limited period. More information is available on Cal/OSHA's ETS page.

Can an employer ask to see vaccine documentation?

Yes. As explained by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, because the reasons that any given employee or applicant is not vaccinated may or may not be related to disability or religious creed, simply asking employees or applicants for proof of vaccination is not a disability-related inquiry, religious creed-related inquiry, or a medical examination. Employers may wish to instruct their employees or applicants to omit any medical information from such documentation. Any record of employee or applicant vaccination must be maintained as a confidential medical record.

Under the ETS, an employer is not obligated to require employees to submit proof of being fully vaccinated.

Visit the ETS FAQs to learn more.

Who has to wear face coverings?

Employers must provide face coverings and ensure they are worn when required by orders from the CDPH. CDPH requires that all workers in the following sectors wear face coverings indoors:

  • Emergency shelters and cooling and heating centers
  • Healthcare settings (applies to all healthcare settings, including those that are not covered by the State Health Officer Order issued on July 26, 2021)
  • State and local correctional facilities and detention centers
  • Homeless shelters
  • Long Term Care Settings & Adult and Senior Care Facilities

Employers must provide and ensure use of face coverings during outbreaks and major outbreaks.

Employers must provide and ensure use of face coverings when employees return to work after having COVID-19 or a close contact. Please refer to the section in this FAQ on CDPH’s Isolation and Quarantine Guidance.

In addition, employees can request face coverings from the employer at no cost to the employee and can wear them at work, regardless of vaccination status, without fear of retaliation.

Find out more about face coverings.

Where can I learn more about the ETS?

Visit Cal/OSHA’s ETS page. This page contains helpful information and resources specifically related to the emergency temporary standards for employers and workers. 

If a worker is excluded from work because of workplace exposure under the ETS, is the worker eligible for exclusion pay?

 

Yes. A worker who is excluded from work because of a workplace COVID-19 exposure should receive exclusion pay if:

1) the worker is not assigned to telework during that time and

2) the worker is not receiving Disability Payments or Workers’ Compensation Temporary Disability Payments at the time of exclusion.

For more information on Exclusion Pay, please visit DIR’s COVID19 FAQs 

 

 

How can a worker file a claim for exclusion pay with the Labor Commissioner’s Office?

 

 

The worker may file an individual wage claim for exclusion pay with the Labor Commissioner’s Office. Alternatively, the worker may file a Report of a Labor Law Violation (RLLV) with the Labor Commissioner’s Office. An RLLV alleges a systemic violation of law that affects several individuals. In such a case, the Labor Commissioner’s Office would evaluate whether the report involved the whole workforce and whether the Labor Commissioner’s Office should bring claims on behalf of the entire workforce or direct workers to file individual claims.

For more information on Exclusion Pay, please visit DIR’s COVID19 FAQs 

 

 

What if an employer does not exclude a worker from the workplace as required by the ETS?

 

 

If an employer is not excluding workers under the ETS, workers should contact Cal/OSHA and file a Workplace Safety Complaint. For more information, see Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 Guidance and Resources.

For more information on Exclusion Pay, please visit DIR’s COVID19 FAQs 

 

 

I want to be safer and healthier at work

What are my rights to be safer and healthier at work?

All workers in California, regardless of immigration status, have the right to:

  • Protection from safety and health hazards, including COVID-19
  • Report an unsafe workplace
  • Refuse to work in unsafe conditions

It is illegal for your employer to reduce your hours, fire you or retaliate against you for exercising your labor rights.

Employers are required to protect workers from unsafe or unhealthy workplace conditions, such as exposure to COVID-19. This requires employers to do a number of things, including:

  • Adjust work processes or procedures to help prevent exposure to COVID-19,

  • Develop a written COVID-19 Prevention Program,

  • Provide effective training to all workers, and more.

  • For face coverings, employers must:

    • Provide and ensure the use of face coverings by all individuals working in specified high-risk settings and by all employees when face coverings are required by the California Department of Public Health or the local health department.

    • Provide face coverings to employees, upon their request, at no cost, even when they are not required.

    • Provide employees with a respirator, upon their request, at no cost, for voluntary use.

    • Follow the CDPH requirement that businesses and venue operators, including K-12 school and childcare settings, allow any individual to wear a face covering if they prefer.

    • It is illegal for employers to retaliate against any worker for using face coverings.

Under the law, workers have the right to file a complaint about workplace safety and health hazards and employers cannot retaliate or punish them for doing so.

Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards Frequently Asked Questions

What should my employer provide to prevent the spread?

Employers are required to evaluate the need for personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent exposure to COVID-19. The PPE your employer must provide will depend on your risk of exposure. Your employer should have a written plan on preventing workplace safety and health hazards that includes training on any personal protective equipment.

Examples of PPE include:

  • Gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • Face shields
  • Respirators

All types of PPE must be:

  • Selected based on the hazard to the worker.
  • Properly worn when required.
  • Regularly inspected, maintained and replaced, as necessary.
  • Properly removed, cleaned, and stored or disposed of to avoid contamination of self, others, or the environment.

Employees must be informed of the employer’s policies for providing N95 respirators and the right for employees to request them for voluntary use without fear of retaliation and at no cost to employees. Employees voluntarily using N95 respirators must be trained on proper use, limitations, and how to perform a seal check every time they put one on.

Your employer must provide adequate handwashing facilities and the time for you to wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. When washing your hands, scrub with soap for at least 20 seconds. They must also provide hand sanitizer, which may be used if you do not have immediate access to a sink. However, hand sanitizer is not effective if your hands are soiled. Do not use hand sanitizer containing methyl alcohol.

Take an online workplace health and safety training on COVID-19 infection prevention.

What are safer workplace practices?

There are no physical distancing or barrier requirements in the workplace regardless of employee vaccination status with the following exceptions:

  • Employers must evaluate whether it is necessary to implement physical distancing during an outbreak (3 or more cases in an exposed group of employees)
  • Employers must implement physical distancing during a major outbreak (20 or more cases in an exposed group of employees)

Handwashing

Your employer must encourage hand washing and allow more time for frequent, adequate hand washing, which includes:

  • Washing your hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Washing commonly missed areas such as palms, back of hand, thumbs, underneath fingernails and between fingers.

Hand Sanitizer

Your employer should distribute hand sanitizer at various locations throughout the worksite.

Hand sanitizer can be used if soap and water are not immediately available, but hand sanitizer is not effective if hands are soiled. Do not use hand sanitizers containing methyl alcohol.

If you think you may be sick or have been exposed to COVID-19 your employer must provide you with benefits that you qualify for under California law. For more detailed information on the benefits below, explore the section I MAY BE SICK OR EXPOSED TO COVID-19 on this site.

Employees who are not fully vaccinated and exhibit COVID-19 symptoms must be provided testing by their employer. The testing must be provided during paid time. Employees must be excluded from the workplace in the following circumstances:

  • Employee tests positive for COVID-19.
  • Employee had close contact with others who are COVID-19 positive during the high risk exposure period and they are not fully vaccinated.
    (Note: Employees who had close contact with others who are COVID-19-positive during the high-risk exposure period and (1) they are fully vaccinated, (2) had tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 90 days but never developed symptoms, or (3) had tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 90 days but they have recovered from all symptoms, do not need to be excluded as long as they wear a face covering and maintain six feet distance from others while at the workplace for 14 days following their last date of close contact.)
  • All employees that develop symptoms after close contact, regardless of their vaccination status.

If the exposure is work-related and employees are excluded from work, employers must maintain their pay by providing exclusion pay. The Labor Commissioner’s Office has more information on exclusion pay.

You may be able to use paid sick leave for paid time off work while you recover, quarantine, or care for a family member.

If you qualify for paid sick leave, your employer must permit you to take the leave immediately upon your written or oral request.

Read more about paid sick leave, and COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave.

If a test confirms you have COVID-19 and you think you were exposed to COVID-19 at work, you might be eligible for workers’ compensation, which provides benefits that include:

What can I do about safety or health concerns at work?

Ask to review your employer’s Injury and Illness Prevention Program and/or COVID-19 Prevention Program.

  • Your employer must establish, implement and maintain written programs that detail all workplace safety and health protocols at your workplace, including the steps they are taking to protect workers from COVID-19 and prevent the spread of this infectious disease.
  • You and your authorized representative (such as a union) have the right to participate in identifying and evaluating COVID-19 hazards in the workplace.
  • You and your authorized representative have the right to view your employer’s COVID-19 Prevention Program and request a copy.

You may also file a complaint about a hazard in your workplace by calling your local Cal/OSHA district office. Your name will be kept confidential by law.

If you cannot call, you may e-mail your complaint to the district office. You can find your local district office on Cal/OSHA’s website.

For your call or email, gather as much information as possible. Such as (if available):

  1. Name, address, and telephone number of the worksite
  2. Type of business
  3. Name and job title of the manager at the worksite
  4. Your name, address, telephone number, and email address
  5. Detailed description of the hazard
  6. If worksite is large, the specific location of the hazard
  7. Operations, equipment, machinery, and chemicals used at the worksite
  8. Work tasks performed near the hazard
  9. How often the work tasks are performed and for how long at any one time
  10. Number of work shifts, the time that each shift begins, and the shift when the hazard occurs
  11. Number of employees at the worksite, number of employees who may be exposed to the hazard, and how close the employees are to the hazard
  12. Employees injured or having symptoms caused by the hazard and whether the employees have received medical treatment for their injuries or symptoms
  13. How long the hazard has existed, whether the employer knows about the hazard, and whether the employer has tried to correct the hazard
  14. How long you expect the hazard will continue to exist at the worksite
  15. If there is an employee bargaining unit representative for the worksite, the person’s name and contact information

What if I am concerned about retaliation from my employer?

By law, your employer cannot retaliate against you for:

  • Asking questions about workplace safety procedures or protocols
  • Requesting personal protective equipment
  • Reporting unsafe working conditions
  • Asking to take paid sick leave
  • Reporting a workplace injury to your employer
  • Filing a workers’ compensation claim
  • Refusing to work when the work would create a real and apparent hazard to you or your co-workers.

Retaliation can take many forms:

  • Being fired or suspended,
  • Reducing your hours or pay,
  • Threats about immigration status or threats to call immigration agencies

The law protects you, regardless of immigration status, against these acts of retaliation. If you believe your employer has retaliated against you, you can file a retaliation complaint with the Labor Commissioner’s Office.

All workers in California regardless of immigration status are protected by labor law, including retaliation protections. File your complaint within one year of the retaliatory act.

  • Gather any information showing your employer took action against you because you exercised your labor rights.
  • Document any change in your employment conditions following the moment you exercised your rights, such as demotion or reductions in pay or hours.
  • Gather documents to compare your employment conditions prior to that moment, such as pay stubs, time sheets, personnel evaluations or commendations, personal notes or other records.

You can file your complaint online. If you prefer to submit your complaint by mail, complete the following steps:

  1. Download and complete the Retaliation Complaint form.
  2. Print, complete the form thoroughly, sign and date it.
  3. Include copies of all supporting documents. Do not send originals.
  4. Mail at

LABOR COMMISSIONER’S OFFICE
RETALIATION COMPLAINT INVESTIGATION UNIT
2031 HOWE AVE SUITE 100
SACRAMENTO CA 95825

or

LABOR COMMISSIONER’S OFFICE
RETALIATION COMPLAINT INVESTIGATION UNIT
320 W FOURTH ST SUITE 450
LOS ANGELES CA 90013

  1. By email to: oshaRetaliation@dir.ca.gov
  2. By phone at: (714) 558-4913
    (please leave a message and you will be called back in one business day)
  3. By fax at: (714) 662-6058

Although not required, if you want to use a form to file your complaint, you should download, complete, and print the Retaliation Complaint form.

Once your complaint has been accepted by the Retaliation Complaint Investigation Unit, it will be assigned to an investigator who will investigate your claim.

What if I don’t have health insurance and I need COVID-19 testing?

OptumServe testing is free for all. Schedule an appointment or call 1-888-634-1123. Walk-ins are welcome.

Other testing sites may provide free tests. Contact the site and see if there is a cost.

For more information on COVID19 vaccines, please visit covid19.ca.gov/get-tested/

I may be sick or exposed to COVID-19

What if I might be sick or have been exposed?

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should not go to work. Find a testing site.

Common Symptoms

Symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Chills
  • Recent loss of taste or smell
  • Muscle pain
  • Difficulty breathing

Read more on California’s website for COVID-19 Symptoms and Facts.

Notification

It is important to let your employer know if you think you may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. You may need to take a COVID-19 test and wear a face covering around others for 10 days.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, it is important to let your supervisor know as soon as possible and stay home unless you need medical care. You may also be able to take paid sick leave so you can be compensated while you recover at home. Tell your employer that you need to use your paid sick leave hours. 

Learn about how long to isolate and quarantine.

View COVID-19 outbreak data that is collected and reported by the California Department of Public Health as required by AB 685.

What are my paid sick leave options?

2022 COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Effective February 19, 2022 – retroactive to January 1, 2022.

2022 COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave provides covered employees up to 80 hours of COVID-19 related paid leave. Up to 40 of those hours can be used for isolation and quarantine, receiving vaccines and caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed. The additional 40 hours are available only when an employee, or family member for whom the employee provides care, tests positive for COVID-19. Read more about this supplemental paid sick leave that is available in 2022 in the Labor Commissioner’s frequently asked questions.

Exclusion Pay

Cal/OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) on COVID-19 Prevention require employers to exclude employees from the workplace under certain circumstances related to workplace exposure to COVID-19. While the employee is excluded, their employer must maintain their pay and benefits. 

The Labor Commissioner’s Office has more information on exclusion pay.

Paid Sick Leave (up to 24 hours)

Under California’s permanent paid sick leave law: if you work as an employee in California for at least 30 days in a year, you are probably covered, whether you are a full-time, part-time, or temporary worker.

California’s permanent paid sick leave law gives workers sick time that can be used to:

  • Recover from physical/mental illness or injury;
  • To seek medical diagnosis, treatment, or preventative care;
  • To care for a family member who is ill or needs medical diagnosis, treatment, or preventative care.
  • Self-isolate as a result of potential exposure to COVID-19.

You can earn one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked. The sick leave that your employer is required to provide may be limited to 24 hours or three days per year, whichever is more.

Supplemental Paid Sick Leave

Employers with 26 or more employees must provide 2022 COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (SPSL). SPSL provides covered employees up to 80 hours of COVID-19 related paid leave from January 1, 2022 to December 31, 2022. Up to 40 of those hours can be used for isolation and quarantine, receiving vaccines and caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed. The additional 40 hours are available only when an employee, or family member for whom the employee provides care, tests positive for COVID-19.

Read Frequently Asked Questions on SPSL or use the Labor Commissioner’s Eligibility Navigator

If You or a Co-worker are Denied Paid Sick Leave

If you know of an employer that has refused to provide paid sick leave as required by law, or who prevents workers from accessing paid sick hours, you can report the employer by leaving a message on the Paid Sick Leave Toll Free Hotline: (855) LCO-SPSL (855-526-7775).

Please speak slowly and clearly to report a business’ failure to provide required  paid sick leave or California Supplemental Paid Sick Leave. Include the following information in your message:

  • Business Name
  • Business Address/Worksite
  • Business Phone Number
  • Manager or Supervisor if known
  • Explain the violation you are reporting
  • Your Name and Contact information (only for the purpose of clarifying the tip, unless you decide to file a wage claim)

More Resources

What if I have used up my paid sick leave, but still cannot go back to work?

If you believe you were infected or may have been infected with COVID-19 outside of work, you may be eligible for State Disability Insurance benefits or for Paid Family Leave benefits if you need to stay home to care for a family member who is sick. These benefits can be made available to part-time and full-time workers. Immigration status does not matter. 

State Disability Insurance (SDI) 

SDI provides partial wage replacement to eligible workers who are unable to work because they have or suspect they have COVID-19.   

Paid Family Leave (PFL)  

PFL provides partial wage replacement to eligible workers who take time off from work to care for a family member who has or suspects they have COVID-19.  

How to Apply 

To apply for SDI or PFL, you should contact the Employment Development Department (EDD). The EDD recommends that most people file their claim online. It is okay to apply if you are not sure if you are eligible. The EDD can investigate your work history and determine if you are eligible 

You can register and file a benefits claim onlineIf you do not have a valid social security number, you cannot create an online account, but you can download the application and mail it in or ask that EDD send the form by calling 1-800-480-3287 (Spanish: 1-866-658-8846). You (the worker) will fill out part of the application and your or your family member’s (for PFL) healthcare provider or County health officer will complete a certification of a COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19 case to complete the application.   

For help with a claim, you can call the EDD: 

    • 1-877238-4373 for Paid Family Leave 
    • 1-800-480-3287 (Spanish: 1-866-658-8846) for State Disability Insurance 

What if I was not paid for taking sick leave?

If you were not paid for taking sick leave, you can file a wage claim with the Labor Commissioner’s Office to get back your unpaid wages regardless of your immigration status.

If you took unpaid time for COVID-19 reasons in 2021 and 2022, you might still be able to request pay for Supplemental Paid Sick Leave.

2022 COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Effective February 19, 2022 – retroactive to January 1, 2022

2022 COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave provides covered employees up to 80 hours of COVID-19 related paid leave. Up to 40 of those hours can be used for isolation and quarantine, receiving vaccines and caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed. The additional 40 hours are available only when an employee, or family member for whom the employee provides care, tests positive for COVID-19. Read more about this supplemental paid sick leave that is available in the Labor Commissioner’s frequently asked questions.

Who Can File a Wage Claim

Any worker in California who was not paid wages while taking paid sick leave can file. Remember to file your claim within three years of the violation.

How to Prepare

Gather relevant information, such as:

  • Your employer’s address
  • The name of the company or individual you work for.
  • Information that indicates when you worked and what you should have been paid, such as pay stubs if they are available.

Make copies of the information so that you can send the copies and keep the original version.

Remember, the law requires your employer, not you, to maintain accurate records, but any evidence you can provide will help when filing a claim. Read more on supporting documents on the Labor Commissioner’s website.

How to File

Once you have gathered the information about your employer and documents, if available, the next step in the process is to file a claim. You can file your claim by email, mail or in person. Download a claim form, complete and print it, attach applicable documents and send it to the Labor Commissioner’s Office.

The claim forms and instructions can be downloaded and printed in  multiple languages.

Make sure to check the box at the top that indicates your claim is related to COVID-19.

If you need help filing your claim, visit or call a Labor Commissioner’s Office location near you. To locate the office nearest you refer to an alphabetical listing of cities, locations and communities.

For updates on your wage claim, please email the district office where you filed your claim and include your claim number in the subject line. For general questions, please email DLSE2@dir.ca.gov.

More Resources

What if I need to pay for medical treatment or cannot return to work?

You Might Be Able to Also File a Workers’ Compensation Claim

  • If you believe you contracted COVID-19 at your workplace, you should notify your employer and file a workers’ compensation claim.
  • If your illness is an emergency, call 911 or go to an emergency room right away. Tell the medical staff that your injury or illness is job-related. If you can safely do so, contact your employer for further instructions.
  • Workers’ compensation benefits are designed to provide you with the medical treatment you need to recover from your work-related injury or illness, partially replace the wages you lose while you are recovering, and help you return to work.

How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim if You Get Sick at Work

  • Complete the workers’ compensation claim form and give the filled out form to your employer.
    • Or tell your employer you would like to file a workers’ compensation claim and they are required to provide you with the appropriate claim form. 
  • Keep a copy for yourself.
  • If you mail the form to your employer use certified mail to show proof of receipt.
  • Your employer should fill out the “employer” section and forward the completed claim form to the insurance company. You should receive a copy of the completed claim form from your employer. If you do not, request a copy and keep it for your records.
  • Within one day of filing a claim form, your employer must authorize appropriate medical treatment. While your employer is deciding whether to accept or reject your claim, you may receive up to $10,000 in medical treatment.
  • For information on how to file and what to do if your claim is accepted or denied, visit the Division of Workers’ Compensation website.

If you need additional support

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What if I am concerned about retaliation from my employer?

You Have a Right to Speak Up about Unsafe Work Practices

By law, your employer cannot retaliate against you for:

  • Requesting to take paid sick leave
  • Filing a wage claim
  • Reporting an unsafe or unhealthy condition
  • Filing a workers’ compensation claim

Retaliation Can Take Many Forms:

  • Getting fired or being put on suspension
  • Reduction in your pay or hours
  • Threats about immigration status or calls to immigration agencies

The law protects you, regardless of immigration status, against these acts of retaliation. If you believe your employer has retaliated against you, you can file a retaliation complaint with the Labor Commissioner’s Office.

How to File a Retaliation Complaint

Who Can File

Any worker whose employer retaliated because the worker took an action protected by California labor law.
Remember to file your complaint within six months of the retaliatory act.

How to Prepare

Gather any information showing your employer took action against you because you exercised your labor rights. For example:

  • Document any change in your employment conditions following the moment you exercised your rights, such as demotion or reductions in pay or hours.
  • Gather documents to compare your employment conditions prior to the moment you exercised your rights, such as pay stubs, time sheets, personnel evaluations or commendations, personal notes or other records.
How to File a Complaint

You can file your complaint online.

If you prefer to submit your complaint by mail, complete the following steps:

  1. Download and complete the Retaliation Complaint.
  2. Print, complete the form thoroughly, sign and date it.
  3. Include copies of all supporting documents. Do not send originals.
  4. Mail or deliver the completed form and supporting documents to the Labor Commissioner’s Office location nearest you.

More Resources

How do I apply for retroactive COVID pay?

Retroactive pay is available under Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (SPSL). To collect SPSL, make an oral or written request to your employer. The employer will have until the next pay period to pay the retroactive SPSL.

Note: Your employer may ask for documentation like a picture of the test result stating you or your family member have tested positive for COVID-19.

For more information on SPSL, please review DIR’s SPSL FAQ’s.

I’ve already had COVID-19. Should I get a COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. The CDC recommends that people who have already had COVID-19 get a COVID-19 vaccine.  We do not know how long your protection lasts from getting infected again after you recover. People who get vaccinated after infection have additional protection against COVID-19. One study showed that unvaccinated people who already had COVID-19 are more than twice as likely as vaccinated people to get it again.

For more information on COVID19 vaccines, please visit covid19.ca.gov/vaccines/

I had COVID and didn’t get paid. Can I still file for lost wages?

If your employer hasn’t paid you, you can file a wage claim or a report of a labor law violation with the Labor Commissioner’s Office. 

Independent Contractor / Worker Misclassification

What difference does it make if a worker is a worker rather than an independent contractor?

California’s wage and hour laws (e.g., minimum wage, overtime, meal periods and rest breaks, etc.), workplace safety laws, and retaliation laws protect workers, but not independent contractors. Additionally, workers can go to state agencies such as the Labor Commissioner’s Office to seek enforcement of these laws, whereas independent contractors must resolve their disputes or enforce their rights under their contracts through other means.

For more information on the difference between a worker and an independent contractor, please visit DIR’s independent contractor FAQ’s 

Are there penalties for misclassifying workers as independent contractors?

Yes. Employers would face wage violation penalties for misclassifying a worker as an independent contractor and civil penalties for willful misclassification. Willful misclassification is defined as voluntarily and knowingly misclassifying an worker as an independent contractor.

For more information on the difference between a worker and an independent contractor, please visit DIR’s independent contractor FAQ’s 

What should workers do if their employer keeps them under independent contractor status when they think they should be considered a worker?

A worker can file one or more of the following:

  • A wage claim with the Labor Commissioner’s Office
  • A Report of Labor Law Violation with the Labor Commissioner’s Office for widespread violations affecting a group of workers
  • A lawsuit in court

For more information on independent contractors, please review DIR’s independent contractor FAQ’s 

Wildfire Smoke and Heat Illness

Can I use a cloth or a bandana to protect against the hazards of wildfire smoke?

No. Surgical masks or items worn over the nose and mouth such as scarves, T-shirts, and bandannas will not provide protection against wildfire smoke. An N95 filtering facepiece respirator( mask that reduces exposure to aerosol droplets) is the minimum level of protection for wildfire smoke. is the minimum level of protection for wildfire smoke.

For more information on Wildfire Hazards, please review DIR’s Wildfire Hazards FAQ’s 

Where can I check and obtain the current Air Quality Index (AQI) and AQI forecasts?

Employers can check and obtain the current AQI and AQI forecasts from the following web sources:

What should I do if I learn that I am working in an area where the wildfire smoke particulate matter is hazardous?

Ask your employer to provide you with a NIOSH approved filtering facepiece respirator ( mask that reduces exposure to aerosol droplets) to protect against the hazards of wildfire smoke. It is very hazardous for you to work in that situation without breathing protection.

For more information on Wildfire Hazards, please review Cal/OSHA’s FAQ’s on 99Calor. 

How do I file a complaint or report an unsafe work condition to Cal/OSHA?

Workers can file a complaint or report an unsafe or unhealthful work condition to Cal/OSHA by calling or emailing the nearest enforcement district office. 

Food, Housing, and Childcare Resources

I’ve had COVID twice now, what resources are available?

Utilize the COVID-19 Worker Benefits and Leave Navigator to ensure you have used all of your paid leave benefits.

If you use all of your paid leave benefits, more assistance from the state is still available. Review the Food, Housing, and Childcare FAQ’s below for assistance with social services.

What food resources are available?

If you need help immediately, you can contact your local food bank or call  211 . Your local food bank can connect you with free groceries or a hot meal. 211 is a confidential and free helpline that can help you connect to local resources like:

  • Affordable housing or shelter
  • Cash assistance
  • Healthcare
  • Referrals for childcare

More information on other food resources like CalFresh, WIC, home-delivered meals for older adults, etc. is available at covid19.ca.gov/ 

How can I get help with my utilities?

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) may be able to help you pay your energy bill.

You can get a one-time payment to help you: ​

  • Pay your heating or cooling bills, even if you use wood, propane, or oil
  • In an emergency or energy crisis, like a utility disconnection

Eligibility depends on:

  • Your income
  • Where you live
  • How many people are in your household

For more information on LIHEAP, please visit the Department of Community Services & Development or call 866-675-6623

I'm experiencing homelessness, what resources are available?

If you’re experiencing homelessness or need emergency housing:

What childcare resources are available?

To find a provider, visit mychildcare.ca.gov or call 1-800-KIDS-793.

For more information on childcare, please review covid19.ca.gov/help-for-individuals-and-families/ 

How can I get help paying for childcare?

You may qualify for the cash aid CalWORKs program. Families that qualify receive assistance with housing, food, clothing, etc. To see if you qualify, apply at BenefitsCal or contact the social services agency in your county.

You can also check with the California Child Care Resource and Referral to see if you qualify for financial assistance with childcare.

For more information on childcare, please review covid19.ca.gov/help-for-individuals-and-families/ 

Training and resources

COVID-19 training for California workers

Online courses are available for workers and employers to take on-demand. Take a course to learn more about COVID-19 and preventing the spread in the workplace. 

Learn from our partners

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COVID-19 digital educational tools for workers are provided by the Occupational Health Branch at the California Department of Public Health.

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A variety of free trainings for employers, workers, and unions are being offered by the Labor Occupational Health Program at UC Berkeley. 

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A list of resources for workers and communities impacted by COVID-19 is provided by the UCLA Labor Occupational Safety and Health Program.

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COIVD-19 resources specific to helping agricultural employers and farmworkers are available from the Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety at UC Davis. 

Who to contact

Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA)

You can file a workplace safety and health complaint with Cal/OSHA online, or by telephone at the district office closest to you.

Cal/OSHA has launched a call center to help workers with questions specifically related to COVID-19.

The Cal/OSHA call center number is: 833-579-0927

Workers' Compensation

For questions on workers' compensation, call 1-800-736-7401 for recorded information on workers' compensation benefits from Information and Assistance staff 24 hours a day, or contact a local Division of Workers' Compensation office during business hours to reach a live person

 

Labor Commissioner's Office

For questions on paid sick leave, retaliation protections, filing a wage claim, or retaliation complaint:

(833) LCO-INFO (833-526-4636)

To leave a tip about an employer that is not paying workers that take sick leave:

(855) LCO-SPSL (855-526-7775)

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