Tesla’s two plants return to “normal operations” and call for more workers to return to work

Valerie Workman, head of human resources at electric car maker Tesla, has emailed employees confirming that its vehicle assembly plant in Fremont, California, and battery plants in Sparks, Nevada, have returned to “normal operations” and calling for more workers to return to work,media reported.

That means Tesla’s attendance policy will resume from Friday, Walkerman said in an email, adding a new provision that says those who want to stay at home because of concerns about family members contracting the new corona virus must submit documents describing themselves to Tesla Human Resources and first get unpaid leave approval. Once approved, their unpaid leave will be extended until the end of May.

Under Tesla’s attendance policy, points are deducted if an employee skips work without accrued personal leave, or if they use personal leave without the manager’s approval. Typically, 2 points will be deducted for each absence and 1 point for lateness. Eventually, workers who are deducted five to six points can be fired.

Some workers are still afraid to return to work, but Tesla has warned that they could lose their unemployment benefits if they reject Tesla’s request to return. While announcing the resumption of operations, Tesla took a number of health-related precautions, such as distributing masks to workers and testing them for temperature at the factory gate. Tesla is trying to quickly increase production to pre-discontinuation levels so that it can deliver as many cars as possible by the end of the quarter.

On March 24, Tesla’s auto assembly plant went into a “minimum basic operation” under local orders. But on May 9th the plant reopened in defiance of orders from local health authorities. On May 17, after repeated negotiations, Alameda County finally approved Tesla’s application for re-entry.

Here’s the full text of Walkerman’s e-mail:

Health officials in the San Francisco Bay Area eased restrictions on “in-place asylum” on May 18 as a result of continued progress in containing the new coronavirus. Specifically, they cited favourable health data indicating a steady or declining trend in the number of infections and hospitalizations. This is good news for the health of our communities, and it’s exciting that some parts of the country are starting to reopen.

The San Francisco Bay Area guidelines allow manufacturers to resume normal operations and ease restrictions on retail, warehousing and other industries, provided they comply with all necessary safety precautions. This order, coupled with the pre-approval of our return health and safety agreement by the Alameda County Government and the continuous improvement of health and safety data, means that our U.S. plants are back operating.

Specifically, this means that both the Fremont Automotive Plant and the Nevada Battery Plant have important updates:

1. We will resume our attendance policy this Friday (May 22, local time) and add new rules that those who want to stay at home for fear of family members contracting the new corona virus must submit a document describing themselves to Tesla Human Resources and be first granted unpaid leave approval. Once approved, their unpaid leave will last until 31 May. Special Note: If you are being quarantined by Tesla or your doctor, showing symptoms of a viral infection, or if the virus is positive, you are not bound by the attendance policy and should remain at home. Please inform your manager that a benefit team member will contact you to discuss paid leave for the new corona virus.

2. During this challenging period, for those who continue to work, the additional remuneration will last until 31 May.

3. All people must continue to comply with health and safety precautions and we will carry out additional inspections and audits to ensure that these policies are followed.

This update applies only to our production staff at our Fremont and Nevada battery plants in Alameda County, as well as to production-related office employees. Previously people who worked from home should continue to do so. In some areas, additional restrictions continue, so you can only report back if your manager, hr resources partner, or other Tesla representative requests a return.

Thank you for your continued efforts to help our Tesla team stay safe and healthy. Thank you all!