Editor’s note: Since the publication of this article, lawmakers have passed legislation expanding benefits for workers. On top of any state benefits, the federal government will pay unemployment insurance equal to one’s full salary for up to four weeks. And millions of Americans are expected to receive government checks for $1,200 or more through a massive stimulus package.
With schools closed and streets cleared, many Californians — like much of the country — saw their employment suddenly come into question this week as fears of COVID-19 spread.
As stores, theaters, public offices and bars shutter, for some, it’s meant working from home. For others, it’s meant reduced hours or possibly even layoffs.
That can mean missing bills or not being able to pay rent at the end of the month, particularly in an economic climate and region where many work paycheck-to-paycheck. Housing costs in California remain among the highest in the U.S. — the Los Angeles area and broader Southern California region being no exceptions.
The uncertainty surrounding jobs led to Gov. Gavin Newsom signing an executive order Monday to give local governments the ability to halt evictions or prevent power shutoffs.
“The Executive Order comes as Californians are experiencing substantial loss of hours or wages, or layoffs related to COVID-19, affecting their ability to keep up with their rents, mortgages, and utility bills,” reads a statement from the governor’s office.
In L.A. County, public officials took full advantage of the order Tuesday and placed a temporary moratorium on evictions from residential and commercial properties.
Later in the day, Mayor Eric Garcetti said the city of L.A. launched a loan program with an $11 million fund to help small businesses that are struggling.
Public benefits such as unemployment insurance are also available to those affected but some labor advocates have called for more. The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor is calling on L.A. city officials to raise the percentage of income given by this insurance to 80%.
L.A. County officials announced Tuesday the U.S. Small Business Administration will be offering low-interest federal disaster loans among other resources to employers. Instructions on how to apply for these loans can be found here.
Meanwhile, businesses in the state considering layoffs or reducing workers’ hours can also get help through a “rapid response” program run by state labor officials.
If you find your employment jeopardized by the COVID-19 outbreak, there is help available. Below, you can find information on how to file for benefits and how much can be earned.
If you lose hours or your job
Unemployment insurance is available to those who lose hours or their position through no fault of their own, something happening at places like restaurants and bars in cities such as New York and L.A. as local governments call for closures.
An estimated $40 to $450 can be earned per week for up to 26 weeks. Information on how to file for an unemployment insurance claim can be found here. And more details on what makes you eligible can be found here.
If you are sick or quarantined
Californians who are quarantined or must miss work due to contracting COVID-19 can file a disability insurance claim or use accrued sick time.
Those eligible for disability insurance can receive up to 60% to 70% of wages — depending on their income — for a range of about $50 to $1,300 per week. It’s available for up to 52 weeks. Instructions on how to file and what information is needed can be found here.
If you or a family member are sick, or if you are staying home as a preventative measure when public officials recommend doing so, you should be eligible for sick pay.
That should be paid to you at the regular rate of pay. Otherwise, it should be an average based on the past 90 days. If your employer denies this accrued time off, you can find information here on how to file a claim.
If you have to care for a loved one who is ill
Those who must care for a seriously ill family member who contracted COVID-19 can receive paid family leave — which can amount to 60% to 70% of wages for between $50 and $1,300 a week for up to six weeks.
More information on what’s needed and how to file a claim can be found here.
If you contract COVID-19 during the course of regular work
If you contract the novel coronavirus during the regular course of work, and then you are not able to do your usual job, you may be able to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
That could include temporary disability payments if you are hospitalized overnight or a doctor deems you unable to do your usual work for more than three days. These payments usually may be received for up to 104 weeks.
The disability payments usually amount to two-thirds of the gross wages you lose while recovering. But recipients are also entitled to compensation for medical treatment and other bills related to illness. Payments stop once you are medically cleared to work.
More information on how to file a workers’ compensation claim can be found here.
For further details, California’s Economic Development Department has a list of frequently asked questions regarding all these different options as they relate to COVID-19.
State officials have also provided a complete breakdown online of resources for workers.