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Tesla Fremont factory has returned to ‘normal operations’ after COVID shutdown

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After nearly two months of sitting idle due to coronavirus shutdown orders in the state of California, it looks like Tesla has finally turned the corner and has returned to ‘normal operations’.

According to an email sent by Valerie Workman and obtained by CNBC, Tesla’s head of human resources, the factory has new health-related provisions in place to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.

One of these provisions is to allow for a Tesla employee to stay home if they don’t want to expose a vulnerable member in their household to the virus. To do so, the employee has to file paperwork with the automaker describing their situation. If approved, they can take unpaid leave until the end of May 2020.

Tesla is also handing out masks and conducting temperature checks on all employees as they arrive on site.

The automaker has been in a prolonged battle with Alameda County to re-open its Fremont factory. Despite orders from the governor of California, Gavin Newsom, that manufacturing could re-open in the state, Alameda County officials overruled those orders, forcing Tesla to keep its factory shuttered.

Only after the threat of a lawsuit, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk threatening to leave California and re-opening the factory in spite of the orders, did county officials finally allow Tesla to resume operations last week.

Below is a copy of the full email sent to Tesla employees this week.

From: HR 

To: Everyone-CA

Date: May 20, 2020

Subj. HR Update: May 20, 2020: Fremont Factory & Gigafactory Nevada

Hi Everyone, 

On Monday, May 18, Bay Area health officials eased shelter-in-place restrictions as a result of sustained progress in the containment of Covid-19. Specifically, they cited favorable health data showing a trend in stabilizing or declining new Covid [sic] cases and hospitalizations, as well as an increase in testing. This is great news for the health of our community, and it’s exciting to begin the path to reopening some areas of the country.

Bay Area guidelines permit manufacturers to resume normal operations, and ease restrictions for retail, warehousing and other industries assuming all required safety precautions can be followed. This order, combined with the County’s prior approval of our Return to Work health and safety protocols, and improving health and safety data means California is getting back to work. 

Specifically, this means a few important updates for Fremont Factory as well as Gigafactory Nevada: 

1.     We’ll be reinstating our Attendance Policy this Friday, May 22 with a new provision:

*If an employee does not want to come to work out of concern that they might expose an at-risk member of their household, HR will provide the employee with a document the employee can sign and submit to confirm their situation and receive Unpaid Leave until May 31.

*If you are under Tesla-or doctor- directed quarantine, are sick with Covid [sic] symptoms, or have tested positive for Covid [sic],  you are not subject to the Attendance Policy and should continue to stay home. Please notify your manager and a Benefits team member will contact you to discuss Covid-19 Paid Leave of Covid-19 Exposure Paid Leave.

2.     Premium pay will continue through May 31 for those who are eligible in appreciation for your work during this challenging time.

3.     All health and safety precautions must continue to be followed, and we will be implementing additional checks and audits to ensure these policies are being followed. 

This email only applies to our production workforce and production-related office workers at our Fremont operations in Alameda County and Gigafactory Nevada. Those who can continue to work from home, should do so. In some areas of the country, additional restrictions continue and therefore please only report to work if your manager, HR partners or another Tesla representative has called you back to work. 

Thank you all for your continued diligence in helping to keep our Tesla team safe and healthy. Please continue to reach out to [Ed: e-mail redacted] with your HR-related questions.

Thank You Team! 

Valerie Capers Workman | North America HR+ EMEA & AU/NZ/JP/KR

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