California is working to support people financially affected by COVID-19 and keep them safe.
On this page:
- Unemployment insurance, paid and unpaid leave, and other benefits for workers
- Exposure to COVID-19 at work
- Returning to work after getting sick or exposed to COVID-19
- Worker rights and protections
- Temporary housing for essential workers
- Questions and answers
Unemployment insurance, paid and unpaid leave, and other worker benefits
There are several benefits available to workers impacted by COVID-19. You may be able to take advantage of:
- Unemployment insurance
- Pandemic unemployment assistance
- Paid sick and family leave
- Disability insurance
- Workers’ compensation
Additional information on these benefits is available in this chart from the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency.
Here’s more information about available benefits like unemployment insurance, paid and unpaid leave, and other worker benefits.
Expanded unemployment benefits due to COVID-19
Several unemployment benefit programs and benefit program extensions are available if you lost your job or had your hours reduced due to COVID-19, including:
- Unemployment Insurance
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
- Federal-State Extended Duration
- Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation
Each unemployment benefit program is available during specific dates. Your weekly benefit amount may also be increased automatically during specific weeks. Learn more about expanded unemployment benefits in the California Employment Development Department’s (EDD) charts:
Find out how to apply in the EDD’s guide to applying for unemployment benefits.
After your benefits claim is submitted, it will take at least three weeks to be processed. It may take longer if your information does not match wage records or your identity cannot be verified.
Visit EDD’s website for the latest news about COVID-19 and unemployment benefits.
If you’re looking for help with:
- Paying your rent, eviction protection, or mortgage relief, visit the Housing page
- Getting or affording food, visit the Food page
- Finding a childcare provider, visit mychildcare.ca.gov
- Finding more financial assistance, visit the Financial help page
Paid leave, unpaid leave, and other benefits
If you’re employed and have COVID-19, stay home. There are options available if you cannot work because you (or a family member you’re taking care of) are sick or quarantined. You may also be able to use paid sick leave to go to your vaccine appointment or if you experience vaccine-related symptoms.
You can use state paid leave benefits if you are affected by COVID-19, including sick leave you’ve accrued, COVID-19 supplemental sick leave, and family leave. Check the paid leave benefits chart from the California Department of Industrial Relations for details.
Here’s additional information about these benefits.
Paid sick leave that you’ve accrued as an employee
- Available if you or a family member are sick, or must quarantine or isolate
- Check the Department of Industrial Relations’ FAQs about using paid sick leave due to COVID-19 illness or exposure
COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave
- Available if your employer has 26 or more employees, and you:
- Are sick, must quarantine, or isolate
- Are caring for a family member that is sick, must quarantine, or isolate
- Are caring for a child whose school is closed due to COVID-19 on the premises
- Need to to go to your vaccine appointment during normal work hours
- Cannot work or telework due to vaccine-related symptoms
- Up to 80 hours available through September 30, 2021
- Check the Department of Industrial Relations’ information about paid sick leave options and the COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave FAQs
Paid family leave
- Available if you’re unable to work because you are caring for an ill or quarantined family member with COVID-19 (certified by a medical professional)
- Between 60-70% of wages may be available for up to 8 weeks
- How to file a paid family leave claim
Expired paid leave programs
Federal and state law provided two paid leave programs related to COVID-19, both of which expired on December 31, 2020. If you took time off from work in 2020 related to the pandemic, you may have been eligible for paid leave under these laws.
- Federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA): The requirement for employers to provide paid leave under the FFCRA began on April 1 , 2020 and expired on December 31, 2020. Check the FFCRA questions and answers to learn more about workers’ and employers’ rights and responsibilities after this date.
- California 2020 COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave: California law provided COVID-19 supplemental paid leave to certain food sector workers beginning April 16, 2020, and to non-food sector workers beginning September 19, 2020. These benefits expired on December 31, 2020. Check the Labor Commissioner’s Office’s FAQs on 2020 COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave to learn more.
Job-protected unpaid family and medical leave
- Available if you need time off to care for yourself or a family member with a serious health condition
- Up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave
- You’re entitled to your same or a comparable position when returning to work
- Available if you’re unable to work due to medical quarantine or illness related to COVID-19 (certified by a medical professional), you can file a disability insurance claim
- Up to 52 weeks of benefits
- If you believe you contracted COVID-19 at your workplace, notify your employer and file a workers’ compensation claim to possibly receive partial wages and medical expenses while you recover.
- Two groups of workers may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits based on a presumption of eligibility:
- First responders and healthcare workers who get sick or injured due to COVID-19 on or after July 6, 2020
- Employees of companies with five or more employees who test positive for COVID-19 during an outbreak at their workplace
For more information, review the Workers page of saferatwork.ca.gov.
Exposure to COVID-19 at work
Your employer must exclude you from work if you test positive for COVID-19, even if you are fully vaccinated.
Your employer must exclude you from work if you have been exposed to COVID-19 at work, unless you are fully vaccinated and are not experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
If you were potentially exposed to COVID-19 at work, your employer must:
- Tell you within one business day of your potential exposure.
- Provide information to you about available benefits like paid leave and workers’ compensation.
- Investigate workplace conditions that could have contributed to the risk of COVID-19 exposure and what could be done to reduce exposure to COVID-19 hazards.
- Offer you COVID-19 testing during your normal working hours at no cost to you. This is true even if you’re fully vaccinated.
Get tested if you:
- Have symptoms of COVID-19
- Were in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 (within 6 feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period)
- Were asked or referred to get tested by your employer, healthcare provider, or local health jurisdiction
- Are required to as part of the school testing cadence
You do not have to quarantine or get tested (unless your employer or local health department requires it), even after close contact, if you:
- Are fully vaccinated with no COVID-19 symptoms, or
- Tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 3 months, have recovered, and have not developed new symptoms
What to do if you have or may have COVID-19
If you have symptoms, stay home and isolate.
If you don’t have symptoms, but you tested positive, isolate at home.
Returning to work after getting sick or exposed to COVID-19
If you have symptoms, you can return to work when all of these are true:
- At least 10 days have passed since symptoms started
- Your fever has been gone for 24 hours without the aid of medication
- Your symptoms have improved
If you don’t have symptoms, but tested positive, you can return to work when at least 10 days have passed since you first tested positive.
If you are not vaccinated and don’t have symptoms, but had close contact with someone who tested positive or has COVID-19 symptoms, you can return to work when at least 10 days have passed since your last exposure to COVID-19.
If you return to work after only 10 days, you must:
- Monitor yourself daily for COVID-19 symptoms through Day 14. If symptoms occur, stay home, isolate, and get tested.
- Wear a mask around others, wash your hands frequently, and stay at least 6 feet away from others through Day 14.
A negative test is not required to return to work.
Worker rights and protections
Your employer must protect you from COVID-19
Employers are required to:
- Follow California’s COVID-19 prevention emergency temporary standards to protect their workers. Worker training must include the specific topics required by these standards. These standards are enforced by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health.
- Provide you with face coverings or reimburse you for the reasonable cost of obtaining them.
Visit the Workers page of saferatwork.ca.gov to learn more.
Reporting your COVID-19 safety and health concerns at work
Unpaid wages, leave benefits, and retaliation
If your employer refuses to provide paid sick leave or COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave, or prevents you from using paid sick hours, you can file a claim for unpaid wages or call the California Labor Commissioner’s Office at 833‑526‑4636.
If you know of an employer who is violating the 2020 or 2021 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (SPSL) Laws, submit a report of labor law violations or call the Labor Commissioner’s SPSL confidential tip hotline at 855‑526‑7775.
If you experience retaliation for using paid sick leave, missing work due to quarantine, and other protected rights under labor laws, find out how to file a retaliation complaint.
Employer vaccination requirements
Your employer can require employees to receive FDA-approved vaccines against COVID-19 infection so long as they:
- Do not discriminate against or harass employees or job applicants on the basis of protected characteristics
- Provide reasonable accommodations related to disability or sincerely-held religious beliefs or practices
- Do not retaliate against anyone for engaging in protected activities
Learn more in the Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s FAQs about keeping workplaces safe during the COVID-19 pandemic while also upholding civil rights.
Temporary housing for essential workers
Hotel rooms for healthcare workers
The Non-Congregate Sheltering for California Healthcare Workers Program keeps healthcare workers safe and reduces the spread of COVID-19. It provides hotel rooms to healthcare workers who give critical care to COVID-19 patients so they do not bring the virus home to their household. Check the hotel rooms for California healthcare workers program information.
Hotel rooms for agricultural workers
The Housing for the Harvest program offers temporary housing to farm and food processing workers who need to isolate due to COVID-19. It helps exposed agricultural workers protect their loved ones by giving them a space to self-isolate. Visit Housing for agricultural workers to find out more information.
Questions and answers
Do I need a note or certificate from a medical provider to file for unemployment?
No, a medical certificate is not required.
How long will it take to process a claim for unemployment or insurance benefits and to receive a payment?
After your claim is submitted, it will take at least three weeks to be processed. It may take longer if your information doesn’t match wage records or your identity can’t be verified.
The Governor has waived the one-week waiting period. This means you can collect benefits for the first week that you were out of work or had reduced hours.
What can I do if I miss work because of school closures?
You can file for Unemployment Insurance (UI).
If your employer has 26 or more employees and you are caring for a child whose school is closed due to COVID-19 on the premises, you may be able to use California COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave. Check the Department of Industrial Relations information about paid sick leave options and the COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave FAQs.
Other options may be available. Learn more in this chart of benefits for workers impacted by COVID-19 from the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency.
Can I get rent payment assistance?
- California Labor and Workforce Development Agency: COVID-19 Resources for Employers and Workers
- California Employment Development Department: COVID-19
- California Division of Occupational Safety and Health: Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Guidance and Resources
- California Labor and Workforce Development Agency and Department of Industrial Relations: Saferatwork.ca.gov/workers
- California Labor Commissioner: COVID-19 Guidance and Resources
- California Department of Fair Employment and Housing: COVID-19 Resources and Guidance
- California Division of Workers’ Compensation: COVID-19 Resources and Workers’ Compensation
- U.S. Department of Labor: Paid Leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act