Leaked Email Reveals a Tesla VP Expressed Concern About Employees Coming to Work With COVID-19 Symptoms
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A Tesla human-resources executive expressed concern in a February 9 email about employees who were coming to work after displaying COVID-19 symptoms or coming into contact with someone who had tested positive for the disease. Insider reviewed a copy of the message.
"Recently, we have had a number of people come on-site, even though they were showing COVID-19 symptoms or were knowingly exposed to a COVID-19-positive person," Valerie Workman, Tesla's vice president of people, wrote.
"When you come into work despite having a COVID-19 exposure or COVID-19 symptoms, you are putting everyone's lives at risk," Workman said later in the email.
Workman did not specify the number of employees who came to one of Tesla's facilities under those conditions or the locations of the offices or factories to which they reported.
Workman encouraged employees who are able to work from home to keep doing so until vaccine availability widens, unless they have "critical business" that requires them to go to one of Tesla's facilities. Employees who are forced to take time off work for reasons related to COVID-19 will receive pay without having to use their sick days, Workman said. The email did not specify the number of days of "COVID-19 pay" each employee can use.
Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The electric-car maker temporarily closed its factories in early 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic surged. CEO Elon Musk has at times downplayed the threat the disease has posed, saying young people aren't vulnerable to it, predicting last March that "the panic will cause more harm than the virus," and fighting with authorities in California over shelter-in-place orders that shut down Tesla's Fremont plant.
Some Tesla employees expressed frustration about the company's response to the pandemic last year, citing Musk's comments about it and a fear that they would be punished for staying home, despite Tesla's insistence that they would not.