Leaked email reveals Tesla employees have to use PTO to get paid if they're staying home because they're sick, scared of the coronavirus, or unable to work
- Tesla is continuing production at its California car factory, Valerie Workman, the company's head of HR for North America, said in an internal email on Wednesday.
- Alameda County had suggested on Tuesday that Tesla might have to stop production at the facility as part of an order that nonessential businesses cease most activity.
- Workers who stay home because they're sick, unable to work, or worried about the coronavirus have to use paid time off (PTO) to continue getting paid, Workman said.
- Tesla and Alameda County did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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Tesla is continuing to make cars at its Fremont, California, factory after Alameda County, where Fremont is located, raised the possibility that it would have to stop production, Valerie Workman, Tesla's head of HR for North America, said in an email to employees on Wednesday. Business Insider viewed photos of the email.
"We still do not have a final word from the city, county, state, and federal government on the status, of our operations. We have had conflicting guidance from different levels of government," Workman said "Until then we are operating with essential employees only while all others are working from home, and working to incorporate all CDC guidelines into our operations."
Workman defined the electric-car maker's "essential" functions as "production, service, deliveries, testing, and support groups." Employees who do not work in one of those areas may be temporarily assigned to one of them, Workman said.
Those who stay home because they're sick, unable to work, or worried about the coronavirus must use PTO to get paid, Workman said, adding that employees who run out of PTO can borrow up to 80 hours worth.
"There will be no disciplinary action for attendance based on health or impossibility to come to work," she said.
Alameda County has ordered all nonessential businesses to cease most activity in an effort to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. The county had first categorized Tesla's car factory as an "essential" business, but reversed that designation on Tuesday, suggesting Tesla might have to stop production.
Tesla and Alameda County did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
On Monday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk sent a company-wide email saying employees didn't have to work if they were sick or concerned about the coronavirus, but he didn't specify that those who stayed home for those reasons wouldn't be paid unless they used PTO. Musk also said in the Monday email that he was not aware of any Tesla employees who have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, but would alert the company if that changed.
While Musk told the company's workforce to be alert to the dangers of small and large gatherings, he also said he believed the public's fear of the coronavirus could backfire by diverting too many resources away from some with pressing medical needs.
Earlier this year, the coronavirus forced Tesla to briefly close its factory in Shanghai and its stores throughout mainland China. The virus has also disrupted Tesla's supply chain, leading the electric-car maker to install old hardware for Autopilot, its advanced driver-assistance system, in China-made Model 3 sedans. Tesla warned in its most recent annual report that a health epidemic like the coronavirus could have a negative financial impact on the company.
The coronavirus has been found in at least 155 countries, infecting more than 207,000 people and killing over 8,200. There have been more than 7,500 confirmed cases in the US, including at least 115 reported deaths. Last week, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic.
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