Workers

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

Paid sick leave: Eligibility Navigator

Identify COVID-19 symptoms

Training and resources

COVID-19 testing

Cal/OSHA's emergency temporary standards

Who to contact

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:

  • Provide workers with face coverings,
  • 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.

Video: Know Your Rights: Safe and Healthy Workplace in California

What should my employer provide to prevent the spread?

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, California law requires employers to provide face coverings and ensure they are worn by workers properly when indoors and when they are less than six feet from others when outdoors. Employers must provide face coverings for workers or reimburse them for the reasonable costs of obtaining them. Wearing a face covering correctly means it:

  • Is put on with freshly washed hands.
  • Covers your nose and mouth, goes under your chin, and fits snugly against the sides of your face.
  • Is washed between uses (if cloth) or replaced.

Wearing a cloth face covering does not take the place of physical distancing or frequent handwashing. It is effective when combined with maintaining at least six feet of physical distance from others.

California’s COVID-19 webpage has more information on how to best choose and wear a mask.

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.

Your employer must provide the time and supplies needed to properly disinfect 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?

Your employer should adjust work practices or procedures to help workers maintain at least six feet of physical distance from each other as much as possible. Examples of adjustments include:

  • Staggering break times
  • Adjusting the number of workers on the line or in the shift
  • Limiting the number of customers that can enter the establishment.

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.

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.

Your employer should frequently disinfect 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 take paid sick leave (PSL) or supplemental paid sick leave (SPSL), allowing you to get paid while you stay home to recover.

Use the Paid Sick Leave Navigator to find out if you qualify for PSL or SPSL.

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

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?

Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (up to 80 hours)

Covered employees in the public or private sectors who work for employers with more than 25 employees are entitled to up to 80 hours of COVID-19 related sick leave from January 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021, immediately upon an oral or written request to their employer.

If an employee took leave for the reasons below prior to March 29, 2021, the employee should make an oral or written request to the employer for payment.

A covered employee may take leave if the employee is unable to work or telework for any of the following reasons:

  • Caring for Yourself: The employee is subject to quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19 as defined by an order or guidelines of the California Department of Public Health, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or a local health officer with jurisdiction over the workplace, has been advised by a healthcare provider to quarantine, or is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis.
  • Caring for a Family Member: The covered employee is caring for a family member who is subject to a COVID-19 quarantine or isolation period or has been advised by a healthcare provided to quarantine due to COVID-19 , or is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19 on the premises.
  • Vaccine-Related: The covered employee is attending a vaccine appointment or cannot work or telework due to vaccine-related symptoms.

Rate of Pay for COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave:

  • Non-exempt employees must be paid the highest of the following for each hour of leave:
    • Regular rate of pay for the workweek in which leave is taken
    • State minimum wage
    • Local minimum wage
    • Average hourly pay for preceding 90 days (not including overtime pay)
  • Exempt employees must be paid the same rate of pay as wages calculated for other paid leave time
  • Not to exceed $511 per day and $5,110 in total for 2021 COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick leave

If you met these eligibility requirements and are a full-time employee, you may be entitled to 80 hours of SPSL. If you are a part-time employee, please see our FAQs for information on calculating the correct amount of leave.

If you are eligible for supplemental paid sick leave, let your employer know orally or in writing that you need to use your supplemental paid sick leave benefit. Document your request and how you communicated with your employer (orally or in writing).

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.

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 or COVID-19 supplemental 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 Supplemental 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.  

SDI and PFL are programs that employees pay into each pay period. If you contributed and meet the earnings requirements during your “base period”, you may be entitled to either 60% or 70% of your regular wages. The base period is the period between 5 and 18 months before you start your claim. The minimum payment is $50 per week and the maximum amount is $1357 per week. A person can receive up to 52 weeks of SDI benefits and up to 8 weeks of PFL benefits.  

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.

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

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

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

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