Late Wednesday night, Valerie Workman, an attorney at Tesla, sent out an email reiterating guidelines for working at the company’s Fremont, California factory. The factory is located in a county that has been ordered to shelter-in-place as the coronavirus spreads.
Workman reiterated that “essential” employees who can’t work from home should continue to report to work at the factory. In a previous email, Tesla said that essential workers included “production, service, deliveries, testing and supporting groups.” It also added that there would be no change to worker’s assignments, and that healthy people may be made essential as a “manager might suggest a temporary relocation to support essential functions, or you may need to be on call.”
Many factory workers are hourly and cannot work from home, and Tesla’s definition of “essential” could include a lot of Fremont’s 10,000 staff.
Tesla employees also have to use paid time off (PTO) to miss work if they have contracted or have been in close proximity to COVID-19, according to another memo from Workman sent to employees earlier on Wednesday.
Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, has made light of the coronavirus pandemic, calling it “dumb” and telling employees they’re more likely to die in a car crash.
Alameda County officials, where the plant is located, has said that it can remain open, but cannot manufacture cars, according to a report by BuzzFeed News. Business Insider reached out to Alameda officials for clarification about the production restrictions, but did not immediately get a response.
Tesla has said that it will only keep 2,500 employees at the plant, but it’s unclear if that means per shift — which wouldn’t change much on the factory floor at all — or if that 2,500 would be split up throughout the workday.
Workman’s email pushed back against reports that there would be layoffs of as many as 75% of its Fremont facility’s workforce saying “there have been no layoffs.”
“Those of you who arrive at Fremont tomorrow will see that we are handing out masks to be worn throughout the day, taking temperatures prior to entry, adding more hygiene stations inside the facility, rearranging operations to promote social distancing as much as possible, and increasing cleaning frequency of all work areas,” Workman said in the email.
Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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