December 7, 2020

Dear Colleague, 

Regional Stay at Home Order. On Thursday, December 3, 2020, Governor Newsom announced stricter guidelines, or a new “emergency brake” aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 in our state. Late Thursday night, CalHR informed CAPS that Departments have been instructed to prepare for office closures as soon as today, Monday, December 7, 2020. 

The new instructions to departments state that “effective Monday, December 7, with some exceptions, State offices will close in response to the new order.  Offices will remain closed for at least three weeks.” All employees who are not deemed “essential” will be redirected to telework, and, where that is not feasible, “as a last resort” placed on Administrative Time Off (ATO). 

The guidance includes information specific for employees who are part of the most vulnerable populations, too. “In establishing telework schedules, departments should prioritize telework for those employees who are considered at greatest risk if required to remain on site (aged 65 and older and those with chronic health conditions).”

CAPS has continued efforts that began earlier this year, to urge departments to ensure the safety of our members.  We have urged departments to continue to enforce the maximum allowable social distancing protocols, as opposed to the minimums, and ensure employees on site are following safety protocols, such as mask wearing, and frequent handwashing. Success has been seen as a result of CAPS’ recommendations, both on a case-by-case basis and, in some instances, department-wide. For instance, some employees were being required to go into the office to perform work that was able to be done from home to maintain social distancing, and at CAPS’ urging, the members were able to return to telework-only. Additionally, a few departments agreed to modify their rotational scheduling to abide by a 25% capacity, versus their planned 50%.   

Because of the worsening numbers of COVID-19 cases in California, CAPS was also notified that the Contact Tracing Program has been extended for an additional six months. CAPS was informed of no additional changes to the program, except for the duration of the redirection. CAPS is meeting with CalHR this week to discuss a proposal to provide the bilingual pay differential for State Scientists using their bilingual skills in their Contact Tracing redirections as well as solidify members’ rights concerning the redirection.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) is still in effect. If you are unable to work because you or a family member you need to care for has fallen ill to COVID-19, you may be eligible to receive up to 80 hours of Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) leave in the form of ATO, subject to the restrictions laid out here. Additionally, if you are unable to work because you need to provide care for your child whose daycare or school is closed as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, you may be eligible for the Emergency Family Medical Leave Act (E-FMLA) authorization, subject to the restrictions laid out here. Members who have questions about the FFRCA, EPSLA, or E-FMLA, can contact CAPS for assistance ( Additionally, if you are having issues securing telework, the means to telework, or experiencing any other work-related issues, contact CAPS immediately. 

Due to the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on our communities and the world, all CAPS Alerts 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!