A Complete Guide to California Employee Benefits During COVID-19

A Complete Guide to California Employee Benefits During COVID-19

Deskera Content Team
Deskera Content Team
Table of Contents
Table of Contents

All people have been impacted to some extent due to the Covid-19 pandemic in some or the other way. The employees working across the globe are no exception to the impacts. While some professionals lost their job, many had to change their profession due to this disease. However, employers in the world and even the governments have put their best foot forward to decrease the challenges faced by the common many and working professionals during this time. The state of California in the United States of America also came up with innovative solutions to assist the employees and announced various California Employee Benefits in this phase.

Let us understand what these benefits were through this blog. We will be covering the points stated below in this blog -

  1. What are California Employee Benefits?
  2. Unemployment insurance
  3. Paid Sick Leave
  4. Health insurance benefits
  5. Disability insurance benefits
  6. How has the Covid19 impacted the Workers compensation benefits?
  7. What are the childcare benefits in California?
  8. What are the retirement benefits in California?
  9. Conclusion
  10. Key Takeaways

What are California Employee Benefits?

California is no exception to the effects of novel coronavirus that swept across the globe. It impacted the employees of all the states and hence, many business owners had to lay off some employees under cost-cutting.Hence, the government has introduced various types of benefits for the welfare of the workers.

The California Employment Development Department (EDD) is California’s state agency is responsible for the implementation of various types of California Employee benefits. These include

a. Unemployment Insurance

b. Disability Insurance

c. Paid Family Leave

Let us understand the California employee benefits in more detail -

Unemployment insurance

According to available data, the state of Califonia had started the Unemployment Insurance benefits system for the employees affected by pandemic. It meant the workers who lost their jobs could avail these benefits if they satisfied the criteria which was as follows -

1. To satisfy the standards for this unemployment insurance, the employee must earn a paystub for 12 months to qualify for California Employee benefits. The paycheck had to be at least 1300 dollars in the last 3 months or the individual should have a bsic pay of 900 dollars in the last 2 months.

2. The employee should be partially or totally unemployed to avail this scheme

3. He should be available in the state and must be able to do the work physically

4. The employee should have been willing to start work immediately.

As per the rule, the weekly Calfirnia employee benefits under this scheme ranges from 40 dollars to 450 dollars. It was expected that the affected individual must fill his entire information on the Employment Development Department (EDD) and know how much beneficiary amount he can get under this insurance using the calculator provided on the page.

To get this California Employee benefits for unemployment insurance, the person must follow the steps given below to claim unemployment insurance -

a. Access UI portal online to file the claim during the operating hours of the website. An individual can also file this claim using mail or phone.

b. The next step is the individual must create an online account for California Employee Benefits program.

c. The person must then register details such as his name, date of birth, social security number and EDD customer account number when he registers for unemployment insurance online.

d. He must file a claim by providing all the necessary and relevant information required on the form. This includes previous employer, his last day of working, gross earnings of the last week when he was employed and the reason for loss of job that is unemployment.

Once the individual has applied for the unemployment benefits on the site, he must certify that he can claim these benefits for every 2 weeks by logging into his account on the EDD portal. This is required as the individual is needed to answer a series of certification questions once this claim is filed by him. If the individual fails to stop claiming the California employee benefits for even a single week, his claim would be expired. In that case, he was needed to reopen the claim with EDD or had to file a new one.

According to the available data from trusted sources, as a part of the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act of 1988, the employers in California who have at least 100 or more employees had to give 60 day advance notice if the business or company was about to be closed due to pandemic or other reasons. The employer had to inform the employees in advance if there were mass layoffs planned by him for cost-cutting in business.

The employers in California are not required to abide by any laws to offer paid leave or unpaid leave to the employees. However, the business owners have to offer paid leaves to the employees who have worked at least for a month that is 30 days in a year.

According to available data, California maintains an Annual Leave Program, the employees in Californai are entitled to have 12 holidays in this state which include  -

1. New Year’s Day

2. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

3. Lincoln’s birthday

4. Washington birthday

5. Memorial Day

6. Independence Day

7. Labor Day

8. Columbus Day

9. Veterans Day

10. Thanksgiving Day

11. A day after Thanksgiving

12. Christmas Day

This list is applicable for both public employees and some of the private employees

depending on which calendar year the employer follows. The employers had no right to add more to the list of paid holidays given by the government. However, the covid-19 has impacted paid time off in California and this has been added to California Employee Benefits.

As per the available information, due to the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, after 1 April, all employers who have less than 500 employees in the office were required to extend the paid sick leave by 10 days along with an 80 hour cap for the employees working full time. Moreover, this law requires the employers to provide a 10 weeks expanded family and medical leave which would be made available for the employees with a tenure of 30 days. Also, the employees who have already taken 2 weeks off under the paid sick leave, can use this provision. The most important point here to be noted is small business owners who have https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employee-paid-leave less than 50 employees in the business were exempted from providing additional paid leaves to the employees as it would cause unnecessary strains on the smooth functioning of the business.

Health insurance benefits

The California employee benefits saw a major change in the way employers offered health insurance benefits to the employees in the organization. The health care requirements for employers in this state are under the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) and California State Insurance Regulations. It requires the employers to have 50 or more full-time employees to provide the medical insurance benefits to them. According to the available information, an employer in California had to offer following things in the health plans to the employees -

1. Outpatient care in a doctor’s clinic

2. Emergency room evaluation and treatment

3. Pre-natal and post-natal care for women employees

4. Inpatient care at the medical center

5. Mental health counseling

6. Substance abuse counseling

7. Prescription on medication

8. Physical and occupational therapy

9. Speech-language pathology

10. Psychiatric rehabilitation

11. Other services to help the individual recover from a serious injury, disability, chronic condition

12. Lab testing

13. Preventive services of the medical center such as screening, counseling or vaccines

14. Pediatric services such as dental or vision care for the children of employees under the age of 19

Even though the federal government has included ‘association plans’ that allow small business to buy coverage as a single entity, the state government of California has banned the use of association plans in this state for the employees. It means the health insurance plan of an employee would remain the same for one year unless he is removed or subtracted from the existing plan which company offers to the employees.

The california employee benefits in health insurance sector has been largely affected by the coronavirus pandemic. As per the available information, the state government has waived  all the co-pays, deductibles, coinsurance for patients who want full-service or commerical insurance for Covid-19 testing and screening. In addition to this, the state government has asked the insurance providers ro cover the telemedicine and telehealth services provided to patients through online consultations and treatment done via video conferencing.

Disability insurance benefits

The California State Disability Insurance (CASDI) program use to offer short-term disability and paid family leave wage replacement benefits for the employees which is payable upto a year. According to the rule, the employee had to file claim for CASDI benefits through SDI portal online or file a paper claim. The eligible employees would receive California employee benefits which was between 60 to 70 percent of their wages.

The rule is applicants facing disability would have a seven day waiting period before the benefits would be given to the employee.He should atleast have 300 dollars in the salary and a doctor’s certificate to prove his disability. The employers were not required to pay in the SDI fund for the employees. Instead this benefit is funded by the SDI deductions done on employees paychecks. Employers had to withheld SDI contributions from the employee salaries and send it to EDD. Also, they have to answer the questions related to employee disability claims as required.

The covid19 pandemic has also impacted the California disability insurance and provided California employee benefits for the workers. The employees who have been exposed to this disease or contracted covid-10 are eligible for worker compensation benefits such as the Temporary Disability (TD) payments. These payments are given to the employee who required overnight hospitalization or if the doctor has not permitted to work for more than 3 days. As per the rule, the employees could get the workers compensation benefits for 104 weeks. An employee can avail this insurance under California employee benefits if he satisfies the following criteria-

· Is unable to work for 8 days straight

· Is employed or is actively searching for job after the disability began

· Has lost monthly wages or income due to disability

· Has earned atleast 300 dollars from which the SDI deductions are withheld by the employer

· Is under doctor’s treatment for the first eight dats of the disability

· Must completely fill the form DE 2501 on the 9th day after the first dat of the disability

· Has to submit a doctor certification portion of form DE 2501

According to the available data, Governor Gavin Newsom has issued an executive order that has cancelled the seven-day waiting period for state disability insurance benefits. Hence, the applicant can now receive the disability insurance payment retroactive to the first week after they are ruled out of work due to disability.

How has the Covid19 impacted the Workers compensation benefits?

Under the California Employee benefits, this state considers contraction and exposure to the pandemic disease an eligible reason for an individual to apply for workers’ compensation benefits. It means employees can take benefits that include temporary disability payments for the certain time period until he gets doctor’s permission to work after 104 weeks means 2 years.

It covers 2/3rd of an employee’s lost wages when he is recovering from a serious illness or injury. The employee will stop recieving the California employee benefits for disability once the doctor given permisssion to the employee to return to the company for work or the employee’s illness/ injury has improved to quite an extent and does not possess as a danger to his life.

What are the childcare benefits in California?

The employers in California are required to provide certain types of leaves to working parents as per the rile of the state. According to this rule, an employer who has 25 employees in his business must provide an extension of 40 hours every year for the employees to attend to school-related activities for their children. These activities could include any one of the diverse things -

· School plays

· Award ceremonies

· Graduation

· Enrollment of child to school

· Any other emergency

The employees needed to give some proof of participation in any one of the above listed programs so that they can utiize the paid leave for it. Furthermore, the businessman had to grant leave to employees if they had to attend disciplinary meetings for the child at school due to some misconduct at the place. The employees are eligible to recover the fortified wages under California employee benefits if the employer does not sanction the required leave to the worker.

The pandemic has had a positive impact on the childcare benefits provided to employees in California. The Governor Newsom had issued an executive order which distributed Emergency Child care vouchers to the employees. These were given to the essential workers and families in the risk group in order to help them get free temporary childcare services.

According to the California employee benefits, all the essential worker who want to use child care to go to work must have less than one million dollars in assets to be potentially eligible for the childcare insurance plan. In addition to this, they should be these essential workers should not be free to work from remote location or have another parent parent or guradian to support their child if they want to avail the benefits.

An employee can apply for this benefit using the link - apply for Emergency Child Care vouchers.

What are the retirement benefits in California?

Under the law of the state government in California, the employers who have five or more than five employees in the business must offer some retirement plan to them as per the compliance deadline of the company. If the business owner does not wish to offer any retirement plan, then he should register for the state managed Calsavers program and facilitate employee contributions in order to provide California employee benefits.

If you are wondering what is CalSavers, it is a government run program for the private employers. It is similar to the retirement savings plan given to the state employees and called by the name Savings Plus plan. This includes 401(k) and 457(b) retirement savings account. The private employers can also register for this retirement plan using the link CalSavers program to their employees.

The pandemic era has forced the CalSavers Retirement Savings Program oversight board to extend the registration deadline for employers who have more than 100 employees in the organization from June 30 to September 30. Hence, under the California employee benefits, this system can be counted as a pension fund for the state government employees.The CalPERS call center remains open and operational has remained functional throughout the pandemic and is not affected by the coronavirus disease so far.


Under the California employee benefits, an employee can get various benefits from the employer according to the state rule. He can avail these benefits for multiple reasons such as unemployment, paid sick leave, health insurance, childcare insurance and even retirement. He is entitled to get receive these benefits if the application is done within deadline on the concerned site and should be notified to the employer.

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Key Takeaways

1. The covid-19 pandemic has certainly impacted the employees and employers to some extent. Hence, every state in America had started providing some kind of benefits for the individuals to help them recover from their losses. The California Employee Benefits cover all areas of an individual’s life and is an initiative by the government to get both employee and employer back on track.

2. The state offers unemployment insurance for the employees who had to leave their job or were removed by the employer due to the unanticipated pandemic situation.

3. Under the employee benefits, the paid sick leave for the employees were increased if he had come in contact with Covid19 or had contracted the disease apart from the 12 compulsory holidays that an employer should provide to his workers. As a result, paid leaves were extended by 10 days for an employee working full time at the organization.

4. The changing times and pandemic ushered in a new phase in the healthcare benefits provided by the employer. The consultation taken online or from a remote doctor/ medical practitoner were considered valid for California employee benefits in the health insurance schemes provided to the employees.

5. Under the disability insurance plan, an employee could work in the company only after getting permission from the doctor or after certification of improvement in his health condition. This has become a necessity for employees to rejoin work after a gap of some time due to disability.

6. The childcare benefits permits the employers to attend the various functions related to child’s education activities by taking some time off from the work hours. The employer must grant permission for these activities if the parent employees proves there is no guardian or anyone else available to take care of these activities for his child.

7. The retirement insurance plan benefits must be availed by the employee by ensuring his employer has enrolled in a retirement savings program. It provides a calculated employee benefits after retirement to the workers.

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