Tesla is giving employees access to more paid-time off if they feel sick or don’t feel comfortable going to work with the coronavirus crisis, but they confirm that they plan to continue production, service, and sales operations.

The situation around Tesla’s operations in the Bay Area with the shutdown order has been confusing as authorities have apparently sent conflicting orders.

Tesla Fremont factory was still operating this morning despite the Sheriff’s Office stating that it needs to shut down.

Now Electrek obtained a new email Tesla’s HR department sent to employees this morning.

In the email, Tesla confirmed that they don’t have a “final word” on the status of their operations under the shelter-in-place order, but they are continuing operations:

“We still do not have a final word from the City, County, State and, Federal Government on the status of our operations. We’ve had conflicting guidance from different levels of government. Until then, we are operating with Essential Employees only while all others are working from home, and working to incorporate all CDC guidelines into our operations.”

“Essential Employees” include all “production, service and deliveries, testing and supporting groups.”

Tesla added:

“There are no changes in your normal assignment and you should continue to report to work if you are in an essential function: production, service and deliveries, testing and supporting groups as discussed with your manager. If you are not assigned to support an essential function, your manager might suggest a temporary relocation to support essential functions, or you may need to be on call.”

Earlier this week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that employees can stay home if they don’t feel sick or simply don’t feel comfortable going to work.

However, he didn’t elaborate on what it means in terms of pay or job security, but now Tesla has released more details.

The company said that employees can take paid time off and they will give access to up to 2 weeks if needed. They also promise not to penalize employees if they decide not to come in to work:

“If you are not feeling well, please stay at home and use PTO. If your PTO balance is low, you can borrow up to 80 hours (2 weeks), after you exhaust your PTO balance. Please inform your manager and follow the normal procedures for sick time. If you cannot or are reluctant to come to work, you can also use your PTO. Please inform your manager. You can also take unpaid time off, after your exhaust your PTO. You will not be penalized for your decision. There will be no disciplinary action for attendance based on health or impossibility to come to work.”

Beyond the factory, as we reported yesterday, Tesla plans to keep its service and sale operations going with some social distancing measures in place.

Electrek’s Take

Tesla has been criticized for its handling of the crisis. Elon has been clear that he thinks people are overreacting to the pandemic and Tesla appears to be defying an order to shut down its factory.

Honestly, I am not sure what to think. I appreciate the clarification about PTO when it comes to not going to work and the promise of not being penalized if you don’t want to defy the shelter-in-place order.

If Elon is right, it smart to keep pushing for production as other factories are shutting down.

However, if the pandemic gets out of control and people at Tesla test positive, Tesla’s decision to push to keep the production going would have clearly contributed to it.

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