March 9, 2020

California Guidance Update: EDD’s Available Coronavirus Resources and Benefits

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The government in California has been taking a lot of steps in response to the coronavirus outbreak, including the Governor declaring a State of Emergency. In some excellent news, the government is providing guidance to employers on what resources will be made available if employees are unable to work due to the coronavirus, and other related concerns. 

The California Employment Development Department (EDD) has announced the resources and benefits it is making available for employees and employers impacted by the coronavirus, COVID-19. We are detailing each of those here for you. 

 

SDI benefits for employees who are sick from or quarantined due to the coronavirus

California’s State Disability Insurance program provides up to 52 weeks of partial wage replacement benefits for employees who are unable to work due to certain non-work-related medical conditions. The Employment Development Department (EDD) has announced that coronavirus will be considered a covered medical condition, qualifying individuals for benefits. Therefore, if you have an employee who is unable to work due to the coronavirus, you should encourage them to apply for SDI benefits so that they do not go entirely without pay. 

 

PFL benefits for employees who are caring for a sick or quarantined family member

California’s Paid Family Leave (PFL) program provides up to 6 weeks of partial wage replacement for employees who need time off from work to care for a family member with a serious medical condition. Being a caretaker for an individual who is impacted by the coronavirus can qualify an employee for PFL benefits. Employees can apply for those benefits here
 

Related Reading: Practical Guidance for Employers Handling the Coronavirus Outbreak

 

Employers can apply to the Work Sharing Program to make partial unemployment benefits available to employees who have reduced hours

Anytime an employee has a reduction in hours or is temporarily released from work, they can apply for full or partial unemployment benefits. However, to continue being eligible for UI benefits, the employee has to show that they are actively trying to seek out full-time work. If you are only temporarily reducing employee hours due to the coronavirus, this unemployment benefit system isn’t ideal because it adds to the risk of the employee leaving their job to look for other work. That action could result in you being short-staffed when you want to come back at full capacity. 

Fortunately, EDD has a remedy for this situation. Employers can apply to the Work Sharing Program, which allows employees to collect unemployment benefits without having to look for other work. It’s meant to allow employees to receive income relief while still allowing the employer to retain these employees to return back to work full-time when conditions change. 

If you know that you need to reduce some or all of your employees’ hours but intend to restore everyone back to their regular hours in the future, we highly recommend you take advantage of this program. There are detailed eligibility criteria outlined on the program’s web page. There are also several detailed FAQs and resources for more information on the bottom of that page.

 

Support for employers considering closure or major layoffs

California has a Rapid Response Program to support employers who are considering drastic measures like closures and layoffs. The Rapid Response teams can provide onsite services to assist you and your employees as you review their options. 

 

Employer tax assistance

The EDD is accepting requests for extensions to file state payroll reports and to deposit state payroll taxes. Employers can contact the EDD Taxpayer Assistance Center for information.

 

Additional information for employers

  • The California Labor Commissioner has published FAQs on topics such as how CA paid sick leave benefits can be used in relation to the coronavirus, and pay obligations if an employee is on leave.  
  • The California Department of Public Health has a page dedicated to news updates.
  • The California Department of Public Health has been issuing Guidance for Healthcare Facilities

 

Related Reading:

Practical Guidance for Employers Handling the Coronavirus Outbreak

CARES Act: SBA Loans and the Paycheck Protection Program

Unemployment Eligibility Expanded Under the CARES Act

Families First Coronavirus Response Act Guidance and FAQ

Remote Work Checklist for Employers

 

Friendly Disclaimer: This information is general in nature and is not intended to provide legal advice or replace individual guidance about a specific issue with an attorney or HR expert. The information on this page is general human resources guidance that is believed to be current as of the date of publication. Note that CEDR is not a law firm, and as the law is always changing, you should consult with a qualified attorney or HR expert who is familiar with all of the facts of your situation before making a decision about any human resources or employment law matter.

Comments

  1. AvatarMichael W. Long DDS says

    We are closing our Dental Practice for the recommended 14 days per the CDA
    We are unclear as to what we are responsible to pay our employees other then their sick
    pay and vacation pay if they chose to take those. Would you please update us
    Thank You

    • AvatarCEDR Solutions says

      This just in from our Compliance Department:

      A lot of our members are feeling the need to close right now, so I understand that you have a lot going on. For handling pay during a closure, here is what we recommend:

      – Remote work possibilities – If feasible and practical, employees should be authorized to work from home. Obviously healthcare providers can’t see patients this way, but at minimum you may have administrative tasks such as billing, insurance, and fielding phone calls, that can be set up remotely for a period of time.

      – PTO – As usual you can make their sick/vacation/PTO time available for use.

      – Paying non-exempt employees – Legally, you do not need to pay a non-exempt employee when they are not working. So issuing any pay beyond accrued PTO is entirely up to you.

      – Paying exempt employees – When it comes to your exempt employees, if you are closing for part of a week you need to pay their full salary for that week. If it is a full, week-long closure, exempt employees do not need to be paid.

      – Unemployment – We encourage you to inform your staff that they can file for unemployment during a temporary work closure. There’s often concern from employers about their unemployment taxes going up from employees collecting benefits. Remember that this is insurance that you already pay for, and if there were a situation where employees should be able to get benefits from insurance this is certainly it.

      – Other CA benefits – We’ve compiled a list of other CA programs that may be applicable depending your and your employees’ situations in this blog. You might also find additional helpful information on our Coronavirus Resource Page.

      – Federal benefits – we are currently waiting on the Senate to consider proposed legislation that would provide additional benefits. If and when anything happens with that, we’ll let you know.

      Hope this helps!

  2. AvatarElizabeth Siregar says

    I am a statutory employee as an insurance agent. Right now I can’t make any sale so no income at all. I don’t have sick pay or vacation pay. Please let me know, how I can get help so I can be able to pay my bills and needing money for our basic needs. I have a husband who’s only on social security and making only a net of $1,200. Please help.

    • AvatarCEDR Solutions says

      Right now, your best bet is probably going to be applying for unemployment insurance benefits through your state. You can find a list of state-specific resources to help you with that process on our Coronavirus Resource Page, here. This is a tough situation for all of us, for sure, but there are some resources in place to help us get through while work and revenue are limited. Stay safe and stay healthy.

  3. Avatartara says

    I am a small buissness owner looking to see if I can sign up for unemployment? I am at home du to the corona virus

    • AvatarCEDR Solutions says

      If you pay yourself a salary through payroll, you would have paid into the unemployment system and could probably claim unemployment. However, check with your CPA before you make that decision, because receiving unemployment benefits could make you ineligible for certain tax write-offs on the business side. There’s no “right” way to do it – it just depends on the bigger financial picture for you and your business. If you are an owner or manager of a dental or healthcare practice, you can join the discussion and ask additional questions on our private, professional Facebook forum, HR Base Camp. There are currently over 6500 members in there discussing questions very similar to yours. Best of luck!

  4. AvatarTeri Steagall says

    I am an independent artist and would like to file for unemployment benefits…. Edd only has one form for salary workers, is there a special form for people like me, if so please send the page.

  5. AvatarChris C Kruger says

    Has EDD waived the 7 day waiting period to file for disability related to someone testing positive or ordered to self quarantine?

    • AvatarCEDR Solutions says

      Most of the federal and state legislation pertaining to emergency coronavirus relief pertains to unemployment, though this EDD COVID-19 FAQ Page seems to imply that the waiting period for disability was waived by the governor, as well (look under the heading “Workers: Sick or Quarantined”).

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Please note: CEDR Solutions specializes in providing expert HR support to owners and operators of independently owned medical and dental practices.