California COVID-19 Worker Protections & Rights Across Sectors

grocery store worker wearing mask
Agriculture worker wearing face mask and gloves while loading produce

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. 

I want to be safer and healthier at work

I may be sick or exposed to COVID-19

COVID-19 emergency temporary standards

Supplemental paid sick leave: Eligibility Navigator

COVID-19 vaccines in the workplace

Training and resources

COVID-19 Worker Benefits and Leave Navigator

Who to contact

Learn about benefits for workers 

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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

 

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

Can schools require teachers/faculty to be vaccinated?

As of August 11, 2021, California requires public and private schools serving students in transitional kindergarten through grade 12 to verify vaccine status of all workers. Unvaccinated workers are required to undergo diagnostic screening testing and must be tested at least once weekly.

Please see the CDPH order for more info.

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?

An employer is not compelled to use any specific method of documenting their employees’ vaccination status, though whichever method is used, the information must be kept confidential.

In order to return to work, is it mandatory to get vaccinated under California law?

Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), an employer may require employees to receive an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine so long as the employer does not discriminate against or harass employees on the basis of a protected characteristic, provides reasonable accommodations related to a disability or sincerely held religious belief, and does not retaliate against employees for engaging in protected activity such as requesting a reasonable accommodation. For more information, please visit the Department of Fair Employment and Housing Employment Information on COVID-19.

State Employees:

As of July 26, 2021, California now requires all state workers and workers in health care and high-risk congregate settings to either show proof of full vaccination or be tested at least once per week, and encourage all local government and other employers to adopt a similar protocol. For more details, please review the announcement by the Governor.

School employees, see below:

As of August 11, 2021, California also requires public and private schools serving students in transitional kindergarten through grade 12 to verify vaccine status of all workers. Unvaccinated workers are required to undergo diagnostic screening testing and must be tested at least once weekly. Please see the CDPH order for more info.

 

Who is eligible for booster vaccinations?

On September 24, 2021, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and The Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup recommended the following people should receive booster doses at least six months after completing their initial Pfizer series:

  • people ages 65 and over
  • residents in long-term care settings
  • people aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions, including many racial and ethnic minority groups and people with disabilities, at risk of health inequities

In addition, CDC and Western States recommended the following people may consider receiving a booster dose:

  • people aged 18 through 49 years with underlying medical conditions
  • people aged 18 through 64 who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting

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

What are examples of workers who may get Pfizer-BioNTech booster shots?

This is not a complete list, and it may be updated in the future, but examples include:

  • First responders (e.g., healthcare workers, firefighters, police, congregate care staff)
  • Education staff (e.g., teachers, support staff, daycare workers)
  • Food and agriculture workers
  • Manufacturing workers
  • Corrections workers
  • U.S. Postal Service workers
  • Public transit workers
  • Grocery store workers

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

Currently, only Pfizer BioNTech vaccines have been granted an extended EUA to allow for booster vaccine doses at least six months after the second vaccine dose.

When should I receive a Pfizer booster dose?

Booster doses should be administered at least six months after an individual has completed their initial vaccine series. They do not need to be administered exactly at six months, but it is recommended that eligible individuals receive a booster to ensure they maintain a strong immunity against COVID-19.

Does receiving a booster eliminate the need for further harm-reduction precautions?

No, even with an extra dose of a mRNA vaccine, harm reduction precautions are still prudent to keep all Californians safe. Vaccines are not 100% effective, and youth under the age of 12 are not yet eligible for the vaccine, so taking precautions such as wearing a mask protects Californians from becoming seriously ill with COVID-19.

COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards

The COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards are still in effect. The workplace standards were updated on June 17, 2021 to include requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated workers. In addition to these requirements, employers must follow public health orders on COVID-19. Local public health orders may require the use of face coverings by all individuals indoors regardless of vaccination status. Cal/OSHA also encourages employers to follow the California Department of Public Health’s guidance recommending all individuals wear face coverings while indoors. More information is available on Cal/OSHA’s ETS page.

What is the status of the ETS?

The ETS took effect on November 30, 2020. On June 17, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board voted to adopt new revisions to the ETS. Following the vote, Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order to allow the revisions to take effect the same day. More information on the revised COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards can be found 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:

  • There is an unvaccinated employee that, for medical reasons, is not able to wear a face covering or non-restrictive alternative and other employees are not fully vaccinated or tested at least weekly.
  • Employers must evaluate whether it is necessary to implement physical distancing and barriers during an outbreak (3 or more cases in an exposed group of employees)
  • Employers must implement physical distancing and barriers during a major outbreak (20 or more cases in an exposed group of employees)

More information is available on Cal/OSHA’s ETS page.

Can an employer ask to see vaccine documentation?

Yes. The employer must record the vaccination status for any employee not wearing a face covering indoors and this record must be kept confidential. Vaccination status must be documented. The revised ETS does not specify a particular method. View acceptable documentation options.

Employers can require all employees wear a face covering instead of having a documentation process.

What is an employer’s obligation to provide respirators such as N95 masks?

An employer must provide respirators in two scenarios:

  1. To any unvaccinated employee who works with others indoors or in a vehicle and who requests one.
  2. Where there is a major outbreak, to any employees in the exposed group for voluntary use.

The respirator must be the right size, and the employee must receive basic instruction on how to get a good “seal,” or fit.

Find out more about respirators.

Who has to wear face coverings?

Face coverings are required indoors and in vehicles for unvaccinated employees. Employees in certain indoor settings must wear a face covering regardless of vaccination status if required by CDPH order. As of June 15, those indoor settings where CDPH requires face coverings include public transit, K-12 educational facilities, health care and long-term care settings, correctional and detention facilities, and shelters (homeless or emergency shelters and cooling centers).

Though face coverings are not required outdoors, employers must communicate to workers that face coverings are recommended for unvaccinated persons outdoors where six feet of physical distancing cannot be maintained. Employers must provide face coverings to unvaccinated persons and make them available to vaccinated persons upon request.

Find out more about face coverings.

How will Cal/OSHA ensure employees are adequately protected if there is a surge in COVID-19 cases?

The revised ETS requires employers to implement more protective requirements if an outbreak or major outbreak occurs in a workplace. Cal/OSHA also has the option of proposing changes to the ETS one additional time, if necessary.

Learn more on Cal/OSHA’s ETS page.

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. 

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:

  • Provide and Ensure the proper use of face coverings at work:

    • Employees are not required to wear face coverings when outdoors regardless of vaccination status except for certain employees during outbreaks.

    • Fully vaccinated employees working indoors or in vehicles do not need to wear face coverings except for certain situations during outbreaks and in settings where CDPH requires all persons to wear face coverings. Employers must document the vaccination status of fully vaccinated employees if they do not wear face coverings indoors.

    • Employees who are not fully vaccinated may request respirators such as N95 masks for voluntary use from their employers at no cost and without fear of retaliation from their employers.

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

    • Employees required to wear face coverings, such as unvaccinated employees working indoors, are permitted to not wear face coverings in certain conditions.

      • When an employee is alone in a room or vehicle.

      • While eating or drinking at the workplace, provided employees are at least six feet apart and outside air supply to the area, if indoors, has been maximized to the extent feasible.

      • Employees wearing respirators required by the employer and used in compliance in accordance with section 5144 or other title 8 safety orders.

      • Employees who cannot wear face coverings due to a medical or mental health condition or disability, or who are hearing-impaired or communicating with a hearing-impaired person.

      • While doing specific tasks which cannot feasibly be performed with a face covering. This exception is limited to the time period in which such tasks are actually being performed.

      • Employees have the right to request a face covering if they wish to use one, regardless of their vaccination status.

  • 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

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 Fact Sheet

What should my employer provide to prevent the spread?

Employers must provide and ensure the proper use of face coverings in the workplace under certain conditions.

  • Employees are not required to wear face coverings when outdoors regardless of vaccination status except for certain employees during outbreaks.
  • Fully vaccinated employees working indoors or in vehicles do not need to wear face coverings except for certain situations during outbreaks and in settings where CDPH requires all persons to wear face coverings. Employers must document the vaccination status of fully vaccinated employees if they do not wear face coverings indoors.
  • Employees who are not fully vaccinated may request respirators such as N95 masks for voluntary use from their employers at no cost and without fear of retaliation from their employers.
  • It is illegal for employers to retaliate against any worker for using a face covering.
  • Employees required to wear face coverings, such as unvaccinated employees working indoors or in a vehicle, are permitted to not wear a face covering in certain conditions:
    • When an employee is alone in a room or vehicle.
    • While eating or drinking at the workplace, provided employees are at least six feet apart and outside air supply to the area, if indoors, has been maximized to the extent feasible.
    • Employees wearing respirators required by the employer and used in compliance in accordance with section 5144 or other title 8 safety orders.
    • Employees who cannot wear face coverings due to a medical or mental health condition or disability, or who are hearing-impaired or communicating with a hearing-impaired person.
    • While doing specific tasks which cannot feasibly be performed with a face covering. This exception is limited to the time period in which such tasks are actually being performed.

Employers must record the vaccination status for any employee not wearing a face covering indoors and this record must be kept confidential. Cal/OSHA’s regulations do not specify exactly how the vaccination status must be recorded. Acceptable options include:

  • Employees provide proof of vaccination (vaccine card, image of vaccine card or health care document showing vaccination status) and employer maintains a copy.
  • Employees provide proof of vaccination. The employer maintains a record of the employees who presented proof, but not the vaccine record itself.
  • Employees self-attest to vaccination status and employer maintains a record of who self-attests.
  • Employers can require all employees wear a face covering instead of having a documentation process.

Employers are required to evaluate the need for personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent exposure to COVID-19. What 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

All types of PPE must be:

  • Selected based upon 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 not fully vaccinated 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 and limitations.

Your employer must provide the time and supplies needed to properly clean the workplace. The commonly touched surfaces in your workplace should be more frequently cleaned with products that are EPA-approved for use against COVID-19. Your employer should ensure you follow the product instructions and use any protective equipment that is required.

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:

  • There is an unvaccinated employee that, for medical reasons, is not able to wear a face covering or non-restrictive alternative and other employees are not fully vaccinated or tested at least weekly
  • Employers must evaluate whether it is necessary to implement physical distancing and barriers during an outbreak (3 or more cases in an exposed group of employees)
  • Employers must implement physical distancing and barriers 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 is not as effective as hand washing but it can be used if soap and water are not immediately available.

Cleaning of Commonly Touched Surfaces

Your employer should ensure frequent cleaning of commonly touched surfaces that include:

  • Doorknobs
  • Light switches
  • Equipment
  • Water/restroom stations

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 tracker I MAY BE SICK OR EXPOSED TO COVID-19 on this site.

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 that was available until September 30, 2021

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.

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

If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 or you have symptoms, 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.

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?

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 is limited to 24 hours or three days per year, whichever is more.

Supplemental Paid Sick Leave was available until September 30, 2021 

COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave (SPSL) was available to most workers in California from January 1, 2021 to September 30, 2021. Employers with 26 or more employees had to provide up to 80 hours of paid time off for COVID-19 reasons. If you took unpaid time for COVID-19 reasons during this period, you might still be able to request pay after September 30. Ask your employer, or contact the Labor Commissioner’s Office.
SPSL could have been used to stay home due to symptoms or exposure, take care of yourself or a family member, for time to get the vaccine or recover from side effects, and more.

Read the Frequently Asked Questions on SPSL or use the Labor Commissioner’s Eligibility Navigator if you think you took unpaid supplemental paid sick leave.

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, you might still be able to request pay for Supplemental Paid Sick Leave that expired on September 30.

Who Can File

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

More Resources

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

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

illustration of person wear mask
California Department of Public Health, Occupational Health Branch Logo

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

Labor Occupational Health Program at U C Berkeley

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

U C L A Labor Occupational Safety and Health Program logo

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

U C D Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety logo

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

 

 

 

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)

 

 

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.

 

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