July 6, 2020

Dear Colleague, 

With California continuing to reopen, and the prospect of returning to state offices seemingly closer than ever, CalHR has released guidance to Departments for employees surrounding COVID-19, facial coverings, and the return to office. You can read the full text of CalHR’s most recent guidance on their COVID-19 Updates for State Workers website here. CAPS has contacted Departments, reminding them of the requirement to notice the union at least 30-days prior to implementing any return to office plan to allow for Meet and Confers, should they be necessary. Thus far the following Departments have provided their return-to-office plans: Department of Toxic Substances Control; Department of Water Resources; and Department of Industrial Relations

With any plan, CAPS requests that the common-sense reopening strategies provided in President Gordus’ letter be followed. These strategies include: continuing current and previous telework agreements, alternate work week schedules and ensuring reduced foot traffic; promoting physical distancing for those who need to be in the office; adding physical barriers between low walls when physical distancing cannot be guaranteed at all times; ensuring PPE is available for all employees on-site; ensuring field safety protocols are established that are created with the assistance of public health officials; and emphasizing the need for staff to stay at home when sick.

CalHR’s guidance surrounding COVID-19 expands on their previously-released guidance to additionally include wearing a face covering at work and when in public, and includes guidance that employees who are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 because of age or health condition take additional precautions, including: 

  • Staying away from large gatherings and crowds; 
  • Avoiding cruise travel and non-essential air travel; 
  • Cleaning and disinfecting homes to remove germs; and routine cleaning of frequently-touched surfaces. 

The guidance also outlines what to do if an employee develops symptoms consistent with COVID-19 in the workplace or at home (stay home and contact a supervisor/manager to discuss alternate work arrangement and leave options); if an employee tests positive for COVID-19, even without symptoms (follow guidance from local health department or healthcare provider on isolation, and instructions from their employer’s occupational health program or human resources department on when to return to work); and if an employee has symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and has not been tested, or has been tested and tests negative (stay home until evaluated by a medical provider who believes their symptoms are due to another, more likely diagnosis).

Finally, CalHR’s most recent guidance reiterates when employees may be eligible for up to 14 days of Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) leave; Emergency Family and Medical Leave Act (EFMLA) leave; and/or to use telework and/or any and all leave types available to ensure the ability to quarantine appropriately and/or work around school closures, consistent with CDC and CDPH guidelines. 

CAPS is in contact with Departments regarding reopening plans. More information will be shared as it becomes available. 

Due to the unprecedented events impacting State Scientists this year, all CAPS Alerts about the novel coronavirus have been sent to all State Scientists in Unit 10, members and nonmembers alike. These regular communications are a privilege typically reserved for CAPS members. CAPS feels this information is too important not to share with nonmembers; however, we ask that you consider joining today. We are stronger together. Help us continue to advocate on behalf of all State Scientists. 

Now is the time for unity and solidarity. Join CAPS to ensure your voice is heard.  CHOOSE UNITY. CHOOSE STRENGTH. CHOOSE CAPS.