Workers assemble cars on the line at the Tesla factory in Fremont. David Butow (Photo by David Butow / Corbis via Getty Images)
David Butow | Corbis News | Getty Images
Valerie Workman, Tesla’s human resources manager, warned Californian employees on Wednesday afternoon that if they were called back to work but chose to stay home due to concerns about Covid-19, they could lose their unemployment benefits.
Workman suggested that the decision should be made by the state of California, not Tesla.
“Once you are called back, you will no longer be on leave, so if you choose not to work, this may have an impact on your unemployment benefits determined by your local government agency – not Tesla. We fully respect your decision and we will support you, without any penalty on our part, “said the email.
CEO Elon Musk reopened the company’s main U.S. auto plant this weekend in Fremont, California. He did so in disregard of the Covid-19 local health orders of Alameda County public health.
Musk also contacted Twitter over the weekend, threatening to move Tesla operations out of the state of California, at least promising to move its headquarters from Palo Alto and announcing that it is taking action against the county of ‘Alameda for health orders which have limited the company’s operations to Fremont since the end of March in order to prevent a more serious epidemic of the new coronavirus in the region.
After his rant against the company’s home state, Musk was supported by expressions of support from President Donald Trump and others. He was also rocked by critics of former US Secretary of Labor Robert Reich and actor John Cusack, among others.
CNBC requested an update from Alameda County Public Health and the Fremont Police Department on the situation.
Local authorities have yet to say whether Tesla would affect the resumption of vehicle production last weekend. They also did not say whether the Fremont police, responsible for enforcing health orders, had ever attempted or obtained permission to inspect the Tesla plant.
Here is what the human resources email to employees said on Wednesday:
To: Everyone CA
Wed 05/13/2020 [timestamp redacted]
Yesterday, we met with Alameda County to review the comprehensive security measures we have put in place to keep employees safe. I am happy to share that local health officials announced last night that our Fremont plant could speed up operations this week as we prepare for full production.
If you have already returned to the factory or your manager has asked you to return this week, we are well prepared to proceed safely and in accordance with all government precautions and safety measures requested by the county.
If you are on leave and you have not yet been called back to work or contacted, you will remain on leave until you hear from your manager. You can continue to apply for unemployment benefits and Tesla will continue to offer you your health benefits.
If you have worked from home and have not been called back to work, please continue to work from your home.
Another important note: once called back, you will no longer be on vacation, so if you choose not to work, this may have an impact on your unemployment benefits determined by your local government agency – not Tesla. We fully respect your decision and will support you, without any penalty on our part. If you have been called back to work but have not received your last unemployment check, you can continue working and expect to receive your last check from your state. Some states are behind in the present circumstances.
I am delighted to see some of you at Fremont this week. If you have any questions, contact your HR partners or [Ed: email redacted].
Thanks to the team!
Valerie Capers Workman | North America HR +