The California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) recently updated its Guide to COVID-19 Related Frequently Asked Questions to include wage and hour issues related to employer-mandated COVID-19 tests or vaccinations.  According to this latest guidance, if an employer requires employees to obtain a COVID-19 test or vaccination, the employer must pay “for the time it takes for testing or vaccination because such time would constitute ‘hours worked.’”  The DIR noted that this time would constitute “hours worked” because “the employer exercised control over the worker by requiring the worker to perform [the] task” of being tested or vaccinated.  This guidance also explains that any time the employee spends waiting to take a COVID-19 test and/or receive the vaccine is compensable as hours worked, though there is no requirement to pay employees for time spent waiting for test results.

The FAQs also indicate that if an employer requires employees to obtain a COVID-19 test and/or vaccination, the employer must pay for the cost of the test and vaccination in accordance with California Labor Code Section 2802, which provides that employers must reimburse an employee for necessary business expenses.  The employer also may be required to reimburse the employee for travel expenses to and from the testing or vaccination location “[i]f the testing or vaccination is performed at a location other than the employee’s ordinary worksite.”  The DIR recommends that employees “ask which location(s) or vendor(s) are acceptable to the employer to avoid disputes over cost.”

Photo of Tony Oncidi Tony Oncidi

Anthony J. Oncidi heads the Labor & Employment Law Group in the Los Angeles office.

Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including litigation and preventive counseling, wage and hour matters, including class actions, wrongful termination…

Anthony J. Oncidi heads the Labor & Employment Law Group in the Los Angeles office.

Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including litigation and preventive counseling, wage and hour matters, including class actions, wrongful termination, employee discipline, Title VII and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, executive employment contract disputes, sexual harassment training and investigations, workplace violence, drug testing and privacy issues, Sarbanes-Oxley claims and employee raiding and trade secret protection. A substantial portion of Tony’s practice involves the defense of employers in large class actions, employment discrimination, harassment and wrongful termination litigation in state and federal court as well as arbitration proceedings, including FINRA matters.

Photo of Michelle Lappen Michelle Lappen

Michelle Lappen is an associate in the Labor & Employment Department and a member of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration Group. She assists clients in a wide range of labor and employment matters in a variety of industries, including entertainment, financial services, and…

Michelle Lappen is an associate in the Labor & Employment Department and a member of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration Group. She assists clients in a wide range of labor and employment matters in a variety of industries, including entertainment, financial services, and technology.

Michelle earned her J.D. from Columbia Law School, where she was an articles and submissions editor for the Columbia Journal of Law & the Arts. During law school, she also was a teaching fellow for the Advanced Negotiation Workshop and advocated for state and federal legislation as a clinical student in the Columbia Law Health Justice Advocacy Clinic.