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Tesla denies claims of firing employees over COVID-19 related absences

Tesla issued a new statement denying reports that the automaker has been firing employees over COVID-19 related absences.

When Tesla reopened Fremont factory in May, it told employees that they didn’t have to come back to work if they were concerned about exposure to the virus.

However, over the last few weeks, there have been several media reports stating that Tesla has been firing employees for “abandoning” their jobs due to absences related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that Tesla had fired three employees for that reason.

They claim that Tesla was staying true to its public policy at first:

But the workers said they thought Musk’s order stood and they could continue at home unpaid. The workers followed the HR guidance, then kept their supervisors updated about their situations starting in June, acknowledging they remained concerned about being exposed. Their managers, they said, were understanding and allowed them to remain home for myriad reasons: fear of exposing a 1-year-old son who was born with respiratory problems in one case, an aging stepfather cared for by the Tesla worker in another and a fiancee who had recent heart surgery and suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

However, the employees claim that they later received termination notices from Tesla.

The Washington Post reported:

‘The company, Elon included, they don’t really care about the health and well-being of the employees,’ said Nayo Miller, 39, of Richmond, California, who received a termination notice on June 26 alleging he had abandoned his job. ‘The manufacturing of the vehicles supersedes our safety.’

Tesla has now issued a statement regarding the situation, and the automaker claimed that the employees are still employed. Here’s Tesla’s statement in full:

Recent reports that we have terminated employees due to their concerns over health practices are fundamentally untrue. The employees quoted in recent stories are still employed with Tesla and we have offered them work multiple times. All we have asked is that our employees talk to us and provide us the details of their own concern so we can do what we can to help find a solution. Tesla has not only offered employees a window of time to stay home no questions asked, but waived our attendance policy for several weeks after we had approval to reopen our factories. In addition, those who have at-risk family members at home received two weeks paid leave through May 31. Tesla also provides 14-day COVID sick leave pay for employees who are quarantined, self-quarantine due to family members who are sick, or have tested positive.

Tesla’s protective measures meet and exceed county, state, and federal guidelines, and we are working diligently to enforce them. As confirmed by regular internal surveys, the vast majority of employees approve of the safety measures that are in place. Unlike what has been reported externally, for a population as big as a small city, we have had very few cases and those who have been impacted have either returned to work or are recovering from home. The credit goes to our employees who are working hard to follow our safety protocols and to keep each other accountable.

We are working every day to make the right decisions for our employees and their families, and put their health and safety first.

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