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COVID-19 Updates: Get the latest public information related to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) at ReadySLO.org.

Employee flu shot clinic will be September 22 & 23. Virtual Benefits Fair will be September 29 – October 6.

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Employee COVID-19 Information

Last Updated on 7/6/2020

PLEASE NOTE: This is an evolving situation and the risk assessment in our region may change, at which point the County will provide updated direction. We are monitoring any legislative actions that may change leave laws and could impact the answers below. These will be updated to comply with new legislation.  

For the most up to date COVID19 information please visit ReadySLO.org

               For employee information and resources regarding the reopening of the County please visit the:

                      REOPENING TOGETHER TOOLKIT

Have additional work-related questions about COVID-19 not addressed in the below Frequently Asked Questions? Contact the Human Resources Department 

Frequently Asked Questions by Topic

Select a topic below to jump to that section.

Getting Paid

Leave Options

Face Coverings & Daily Health Monitoring

Reopening

Health

Disaster Service Worker


Getting Paid

Can I use my Deferred Compensation?

Employees who are facing financial hardship may be eligible to borrow from their Deferred Compensation account through Nationwide. To explore this option please contact Nationwide by calling 877-677-3678 or visiting their website. All loan applications received to Nationwide by 1 pm PST will be processed within 24 hours.

Has the vacation accrual cap been lifted?

The County has temporarily lifted the current 320-hour vacation accrual cap to allow for employees who are at or near the cap to continue to accrue vacation time. This will be a positive impact for employees that may be unable to take vacation time due to the emergency. The suspension of the vacation accrual cap will be until December 31, 2020. After December 31, 2020, the 320-hour cap will be reinstated, and any employee who has a balance above 320 hours at that time will receive cash-out for the hours above the cap.

I am a temporary employee available to serve as a Disaster Service Worker if needed. Will I be paid?

Yes, temporary employees, interns and contract employees WILL be paid their normal rate for actual hours worked, whether as DSW’s or in some other capacity. 

I am a temporary employee who is a retiree, and I’m worried about working beyond the 960 maximum and my pension benefits.

On 03/21/2020, Governor Newsom signed an Executive Order that waived the 960 hour limit for retiree workers temporarily. Due to the COVID-19 emergency declaration, retired employees can work beyond the 960 hour limit during Fiscal Year 2019-20 without having to be reinstated as regular employees at Tier 3, and SLOCPT having to suspend their pensions. If the employee has additional questions regarding their pension status, they should reach out to Pension Trust at 805-781-5465

I was exposed to COVID19 at work and the Public Health Officer is requiring me to quarantine. How do I code my timecard?

If you are isolated by the Public Health Officer because you contracted COVID-19 while at work, a Worker’s Compensation claim will be approved. You may file a Worker’s Compensation claim by completing the Employee Report of Occupational Injury or Illness and submitting to your supervisor.

If you are quarantined by the Public Health Officer due to a potential workplace exposure but test negative, you may use your 80-hour sick leave deposit. In accordance with the Families Frist Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), all employees have been given 80 hours of additional sick leave to use until December 31, 2020. Part time employees received a prorated amount based on their average schedule over the past 6 months. Those hours shall be used and exhausted before any temporary disability benefits or benefits under Section 4850 are due and payable. 

I am performing normal job duties either at work or telecommuting. How should I code my time?

Code regular time as you normally would (10 for at work, 15 for telecommuting).

I am sick and do not have sick leave balances. What are my options?

The County will be flexible and will allow all accrued balances to be utilized for leave for yourself and immediate family members. There are various leave options available to employees. Please review the How do Employees Get Paid document for informaiton on leave options available to employees. Probationary employees may use all accruals immediately without having to complete their probationary period.

• Employees who are facing financial hardship may be eligible to borrow from their Deferred Compensation account through Nationwide. To explore this option please contact Nationwide by calling 877-677-3678 or visiting their website. All loan applications received to Nationwide by 1 pm PST will be processed within 24 hours.

I have a pre-planned vacation or pre-scheduled leave. Can I still take this time off?

Check in with your department regarding approval status for vacation time. Use the same leave balances you designated for your vacation/pre-planned leave.

I received additional sick leave. What is that for?

In accordance with the Families Frist Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), all employees have been given up to 80 hours of additional sick leave to use until December 31, 2020. Part time employees received a prorated amount based on their average schedule over the past 6 months. After December 31, 2020, or if an employee terminates employment prior that date, any unused portion of the additional hours will be returned to the County. Employees will not need return any hours they have used. The 80 hours is in addition to any leave balances employees already have and will not impact their sick leave accruals at all. Employees will continue to accrue sick leave as they regularly would.

Will employees be reimbursed and paid for travel?

All travel time and reimbursements outlined in the appropriate MOU or the County Travel Policy will continue to apply.

Will employees be reimbursed for using personal cell phones for work?

Employees who use their personal phone or other electronic devices for County business or work related as a DSW will be compensated pursuant to the County’s Use Policy for Cellular Telephones and Tablet Devices (Mobile Devices). This policy is available on the Auditor Controller’s MySLO page. Note, any time an employee uses their personal cellular phone for County business, it may be discoverable for Public Records Act requests. Employees and supervisors should be cautious about transmitting sensitive information via texts, emails, or other means through an employee’s personal device.

Will I be compensated for overtime?

For hourly, non-exempt employees, all MOU, County Code and FLSA provisions will continue to apply regarding overtime.

Leave Options

As a temporary employee, when can I use my sick leave?

You can use your sick leave balance if you are called in to work and you are unable to report because you are sick.  If you are unable to report to a Disaster Service Worker call due to illness, you can code sick leave for that time you were unavailable. 

Can I apply for short term disability due to a non-work-related illness such as COVID-19?

Yes, depending on your bargaining unit (BU) and your benefit elections, you may be covered under a short term disability (STD) policy which will provide benefits if you are out of work for longer than 7 days and meet the plan provisions.

Do temporary employees get paid sick leave during this COVID epidemic?

Yes, effective April 1, all temporary employees will be provided a balance of paid sick leave.  The amount of sick leave they receive will be prorated based on the average number of hours the temporary employee worked in the past 6 months. Their leave balances will be deducted based on their part time allocations. For example, a half time employee will use 20 hours of leave balances each week if they regularly work 20 hours a week.

I am sick and do not have sick leave balances. What are my options?

The County will be flexible and will allow all accrued balances to be utilized for leave for yourself and immediate family members. There are various leave options available to employees.

  • Probationary employees may use all accruals immediately without having to complete their probationary period.
What are my options if am unable to report to work or telecommute for any COVID reason (school closures, self- isolating, sick, caring for family member, etc.)

Various leave options are available to you. View the Leave Options section of the How Employees will be Paid document to learn more. 

Face Coverings & Daily Health Monitoring

Am I required to wear a face covering to work?

Yes, per California Department of Public Health guidance, California residents must wear face coverings in the following work situations:

Engaged in work, whether at the workplace or performing work off-site, when:

  • Interacting in-person with any member of the public
  • Working in any public spaces, regardless of whether anyone from the public is present at the time
    • Public spaces include lobbies, restrooms shared with the public, and any other County spaces accessible to the public.
    • You are not required to wear a mask at work in places that are not accessible to the public if a 6-foot distance can be maintained, such as conference rooms or individual offices.
  • Working in or walking through non-public common areas, such as hallways, stairways, elevators, and employee restrooms
  • In any room or enclosed area where other people are present when unable to physically distance

You must also wear a mask in the following high-risk sitations: 

  • While outdoors in public spaces when maintaining a physical distance of 6 feet from persons who are not members of the same household or residence is not feasible
  • Inside of, or in line to enter, any indoor public space
  • Obtaining services from the healthcare sector in settings including, but not limited to, a hospital, pharmacy, medical clinic, laboratory, physician or dental office, veterinary clinic, or blood bank
  • Waiting for or riding on public transportation or paratransit or while in a taxi, private car service, or ride-sharing vehicle
  • Driving or operating any public transportation or paratransit vehicle, taxi, or private car service or ride-sharing vehicle when passengers are present. When no passengers are present, face coverings are strongly recommended.
Is anyone exempt from having to wear a face covering at work?

Yes, per California Department of Public Health guidelines, the following individuals are exempt from wearing a face covering at work:

  • Persons with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents wearing a face covering. This includes persons with a medical condition for whom wearing a face covering could obstruct breathing or who are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove a face covering without assistance.
  • Persons who are hearing impaired, or communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.
  • Persons for whom wearing a face covering would create a risk to the person related to their work, as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.

Other exemptions include:

  • Persons who are obtaining a service involving the nose or face for which temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to perform the service.
  • Persons who are seated at a restaurant or other establishment that offers food or beverage service, while they are eating or drinking, provided that they are able to maintain a distance of at least six feet away from persons who are not members of the same household or residence.
  • Persons who are engaged in outdoor work or recreation such as swimming, walking, hiking, bicycling, or running, when alone or with household members, and when they are able to maintain a distance of at least six feet from others.
I have a medical condition that prevents me from being able to wear a face covering, what should I do?

If you have a medical condition that prevents you from wearing a face covering, please inform your supervisor and provide them with your doctor’s note. The doctor’s note does not need to provide the diagnosis or even the symptoms, just a confirmation of the need for an exclusion from the cloth mask requirement. This is similar to what employees are required to provide to their employers as part of  Americans with Disabilities Act and is not in violation of any of privacy laws.

If your job requires you to have regular contact with others, you will be required to wear a non-restrictive alternative such as a face shield in the same situations that calls for a face covering. The County will supply the shield in those instances. You may not use a face shield in the place of a face covering without a documented medical condition, as a face shield is less effective than a mask in protecting those around you.

May I wear a face shield instead of a cloth face covering?

Cloth face covering provide greater protection than face shields; therefore, a face shield is not an alternative unless you are exempt from wearing a cloth face covering (see FAQ above)

What if a customer refuses to wear a face covering?

Businesses have a right to require masks and to refuse entry or service to an individual who is not wearing a mask. It is akin to banning smoking inside of a store - people have a right to smoke, but a business can restrict that right on its premises for the safety and peace of mind of its employees and other customers. However, enforcing the right to require a face covering may be more challenging. Refusing service to a patron for not wearing a face covering could elevate other safety risks, including violence.

Suggested guidelines (please follow your department’s protocols if they differ):

  1. Ask them if they forgot their mask. Well-intentioned people are still trying to develop good habits.
  2. Offer a disposable mask if they don’t have one.
  3. If they refuse, ask them if they could possibly do the transaction online.
  4. Still refuse? Speak with the customer behind plexiglass and/or place additional distance between yourself and the customer.
  5. If the customer is threatening or belligerent, follow your department’s protocol for removing such customers. Feel free to reach out to Risk Management at (805) 781-1346 if you need assistance with a Reception Desk Protocol.
Why do I have to complete a daily health screening questionnaire?

The California Department of Public Health has issued guidance for office workspaces to “support a safe, clean environment for employees”. Their guidance calls for employers to “provide temperature and/or symptom screenings for all workers at the beginning of their shift and any vendors, contractors, or other workers entering the establishment.” The County will continue to follow the State’s COVID-19 safety guidelines, including these new requirements. The County is also requiring all business with offices in our county to comply with these same guidelines.

Are the daily health screening questionnaires required in all County departments and facilities?

Yes.

What happens if I answer “yes” to any of the symptoms in the health screening questionnaire?

If you answer yes to any of the COVID symptoms and cannot attribute them to another condition (e.g. coughing because of allergies) please stay home and notify your supervisor. You must also contact the Public Health (PH) Liaison at 805-781-4510 and inform them you are a County employee experiencing symptoms associated with COVID and need to speak the Communicable Diseases team for further direction. You may only return to work once you have been given clearance by PH.

Employees who call in sick and do not report to work due to COVID related symptoms should still notify PH. They must either complete the questionnaire or call PH and identify that they are a County employee with symptoms. This will facilitate getting cleared to return to work.

Are my responses to the daily health screening questionnaire protected by HIPAA?

The County treats this information as confidential and will protect your personal privacy; however, it is not HIPAA protected Personal Health Information (PHI). Our screening results will only be shared with select individuals who have a need to know in order to ensure employees experiencing COVID related symptoms are not reporting to work and are connected with Public Health for further instruction and clearance to return to work. Screenings that reveal symptoms (one or more Yes answers) will be shared with the Public Health Department. They will be maintained separate from your personnel file. Screenings that reveal no symptoms (all No answers) will be deleted or shredded.

If I complete my daily health questionnaire from home, is that time compensable?

No, pre-shift time spent on health checks is not compensable since it is not a principal activity of your job. The questionnaire should only take seconds to complete.

My department sent me a link to complete the daily health questionnaire on my mobile device, am I entitled to mobile device stipend?

No, you are not entitled to a mobile device stipend if requested solely for the completion of the daily health screening per the County’s Use Policy for Cellular Telephones and Tablet Devices. Completing a daily screening before or when reporting to a County work location is required, however using your phone to do so is a convenience. You also have the option to use your personal computer or answer the questions in person. Please contact your supervisor or department safety rep to arrange a suitable means.

Reopening

I think I may have been exposed to someone that is COVID positive, what should I do?

To assist with questions about COVID-19, Public Health now has two phone lines, one for exposure and one for symptoms.

Call PH at 805-781-5500 – for responses and advice on action to take when you believe you may have been exposed to COVID-19

Call the PH Liaison at 805-781-4510 - for instructions on what action to take when you have COVID-19 symptoms not attributed to another health condition and clearance to return to work

What safety guidelines are being put in place to keep me safe?

For more informaiton the County's safety guidelines, review the Safety Guidlines for County Work Locations. 

What types of measures is the County asking departments to implement to encourage physical distancing within in the workplace?

The County has establed a number of measures to encourage physical distancing within the workplace. 

Will the County’s Safety Guidelines and expectations for employees and departments change as we move through the 4 stages?

Yes, see page 4 of the summary of the guidelines by stage. Please note, these guidelines are subject to change as the County responds to changes in the pandemic.

Does the County have PPE guidelines for employees?
Does the County have workplace sanitation guidelines?

Yes, the County has established workplace sanitation guidelines

If I am vulnerable due to a medical condition, will I be required to provide evidence of my medical condition to seek an alternative to reporting to my workplace?

Yes.

Are vulnerable populations returning to the workplace?

We are asking departments to continue to accommodate high-risk/vulnerable workers. This includes people 65 and older or with a medical condition that makes them more susceptible to infection or at risk of serious health risks if they are infected. While you may return to the workplace, we would prefer that you continue to shelter at home in order to protect yourself. Please work with your supervisor to discuss accommodation questions or concerns.

Who can I contact if I have any questions on the County’s COVID related safety guidelines?

Please let HR - Countywide Safety or your Department’s Safety Rep know if you have questions or concerns.

Are there courses available to learn how to be prepared for reopening?

NeoGov Learn has many courses that can assist as we adjust to how COVID19 has changed the work environment. The Learning and Development Center has review and reccomends several courses ranging from COVID19 preparedness to tips on telecomuting. The full list can be found in the Reopening Toolkit. 

Does the County offer help in dealing with stress and anxiety during these trying times?

The County's EAP is currently offering the below to assist you in times of anxiety or stress.  

EAP Tips - Mindfulness Exercises and Managing Stress

  • Please visit www.anthemeap.com and use the code “San Luis Obispo” to login, or call 1-800-999-7222.
I have pre-planned out-of-County work travel. Will I still be able to go?

Out of County business travel is canceled at this time effective immediately unless the training/meeting is critical. If you would like to request that your travel still take place, please speak to your supervisor who can discuss your request with your Department Head. During Stage 3 of the State’s Resilience Roadmap, it is anticipated that some out of County work travel may resume.

My Supervisor has asked me to return to work, but my childcare is not currently open. What are my options?

If you are unable to return to work or telecommute due to childcare, you may use any leave balances you have available and may also be eligible for paid Emergency FMLA pursuant to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to protect a portion of your pay and benefits. More information can be found in the “How will Employees Be Paid” document. 

Why isn’t the County suspending operation during this time?

This situation is very fluid. Our goal is to keep our employees safe while continuing to provide services to our community. The County is responsible for Emergency Management of the entire County. We are committed to serving the public before, during, and after times of emergency. All County employees are public servants and, as such, are Disaster Service Workers (DSWs) and may be required to work during a disaster which includes working at emergency response facilities. As a DSW, you may be assigned to locations and duties outside of your normal job responsibilities. Regardless of where you are assigned, or what your job duties are, we will make every effort to keep you safe. The County is following the State’s Resilience Roadmap as it implements a phased approach to reopening operations.

Will the County allow telecommuting for employees?

Department Heads are encouraging telecommuting when practical. Pursuant to the County’s Telecommuting Policy, authorization for telecommuting is at the Department Head’s discretion. Please work with your department to determine if telecommuting is available. Please refer to the County’s Telecommuting Policy for more information.

Health

Are there any tips for using and cleaning your face coverings?
Can I use telemedicine?

Yes, the CDC encourages you to use telemedicine services, rather than visiting a doctor's office or clinic, to limit the spread of the virus. All copays will be waived when utilizing Anthem’s Live Health Online telemedicine for the purpose of discussing COVID-19. Anthem’s Live Health Online (LHO) provides access to Telemedicine services via your phone, tablet or computer for you and your covered dependents. Visits are confidential and can be made wherever you are most comfortable.  Sign up and download the corresponding app to schedule a telemedicine appointment.  

 

I am age 65 or older. Should I stay home from work?

Based on the County’s adoption of Governor Newsom’s guideline that people age 65 or older self-isolate, the County highly recommends that vulnerable/high risk employees, including those age 65 or older, stay home instead of reporting to work, through Stage 2 of the State’s Resilience Roadmap. Please work with your direct supervisor to arrange to tele-work if practical. You may return to your regular workplace during Stage 3 but should continue physical distancing and minimize exposure. If you are designated as an essential worker, you are expected to report to work, either at your regular workplace, a designated worksite, or from home. If you are able to and wish to work despite the guidelines, you may report to work. You will need to arrange to work at your regular workplace with your supervisor to make every effort to limit your exposure through social distancing and sanitation practices .

I am concerned about being exposed at work. Can I elect to reduce my exposure by not coming to work or reducing my public contact?

The County is balancing providing service to the community and protecting employee’s health. Any employee that believes they cannot work may use their leave balances consistent with Department notification protocol. The Public Health Department is actively working with the CDC, with the state of California Department of Public Health (CDPH), other County officials, local health care providers, and other partners to protect your health. This is a rapidly evolving situation and the risk assessment in our region may change, at which point the County will provide updated direction. Please refer to the County’s Safety Guidelines for additional information. As we enter Stage 3 of the State’s Resilience Roadmap, it is anticipated that County operations will begin to return to normal.

I have been informed that a co-worker has tested positive for COVID-19, I am not sick and don't have any symptoms, should I file a Workers' Compensation claim for exposure to COVID-19?

No need to file a claim at this time. Keep track of the exposure timeline.  If you do end up testing positive for COVID-19, then file a claim. See above guidelines for more information.

I recently traveled outside of the area. What should I do?

Please visit ReadySlo.org for the most up to date recommendations, or call 805-781-5500.

What if I have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 but I am not showing any symptoms?

Please visit ReadySlo.org for the most up to date recommendations, or call 805-781-5500. As a reminder, you are encouraged to utilize telemedicine services, rather than visiting a doctor's office or clinic, to limit the spread of the virus. Anthem’s Live Health Online (LHO) provides access to Telemedicine services via your phone, tablet or computer for you and your covered dependents. Visits are confidential and can be made wherever you are most comfortable. Appointments are conveniently run through your insurance and remaining amount owed can be charged to your debit or FSA card. Sign up and download the corresponding app to schedule a telemedicine appointment.

If you are required to self-quarantine, the County will be flexible and will allow all accrued balances to be utilized.If you have exhausted all leave balances, including ESPL or are new to the County and are sick, the County will advance you up to a maximum of 80 hours of sick leave upon your request.

When should I stay home from work?

As always, if you are feeling flu like symptoms, you should stay home from work to self-monitor your symptoms and seek medical attention as needed.  If you have symptoms of acute respiratory illness it is recommended to stay home and not come to work until you are free of fever (100.4° F or greater), signs of a fever, and other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing medications (e.g., Tylenol or ibuprofen). People who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should consult with their healthcare provider or County Public Health.  As a reminder, telemedicine is a good option for contacting your healthcare provider.   

 

Will my County medical insurance cover me if I need testing or treatment related to COVID-19?

Yes. California has mandated insurance companies and Medi-Cal plans reduce cost sharing to zero (including co-pays, deductibles, or co-insurance) for all medically necessary screening and testing for COVID-19, including hospital, urgent care visits, and provider office visits where the purpose of the visit is to be screened and/or tested for COVID-19. For more information, please refer to the DMHC’s All Plan Letter.   

Disaster Service Worker

Do call back provisions apply while working as a DSW?

If an employee is called in to work as a DSW outside of their scheduled shift(s) for the declared emergency, then the employee would get paid per the appropriate call back provisions based on their MOU. 

Do employees code standby for being available to work as a DSW?

Generally, employees should not need to code standby since they are being paid for their regularly scheduled work hours for working or being available as a DSW. Departments should adjust employees’ schedules accordingly to ensure that employees know when they are expected to work. However, if a department needs employees to be available on standby beyond that schedule, employees will be paid for standby pursuant to the applicable MOU. 

I am a temporary employee available to serve as a Disaster Service Worker if needed. Will I be paid?

Yes, temporary employees, interns and contract employees WILL be paid their normal rate for actual hours worked, whether as DSW’s or in some other capacity. 

My department expects all employees be able to work as DSW’s to be available Monday through Friday and employees are asked to check in on Saturday and Sunday. Are employees paid for Saturday and Sunday as well?

If an employee checks in on Saturday or Sunday and is told that they will likely be needed as a DSW and to remain available to respond, they will be paid. If they check in and are told that they will not be needed, they do not get paid. However, if an employee is told that they will not be needed, and then is unexpectedly called to work, they will need to be paid for this work. This could be overtime or call back pay (based on the employee’s MOU).

What if I am not available to respond as a DSW?

If you are not able to respond as a DSW, and telecommuting or other work is not an option, you will need to code your leave balances. See Leave Options for Employees Unable to Work or be Available as DSW below for more information.


Related Services

COVID-19 Compensation and Leave FAQs
How Employees Will Get Paid

Related Forms & Documents

Families First Coronavirus Response Act
Advanced-Sick-Leave-Process
Advanced Sick Leave Request for COVID19 Eform
Advanced Sick Leave Request for COVID19 - Paper Form
Employee-FAQ-s-for-Disaster-state
Telecommuting Assistance

Interested in a career in Public Service?   View our list of current job opportunities and apply for employment at the County of San Luis Obispo.