Tesla reportedly orders factory workers to show up despite shelter orders (updated)

Christine Fisher
Contributing Writer
The Washington Post via Getty Images

Earlier today, it looked like Tesla would have to pause production at its factory in Fremont. Now, TechCrunch reports, the company says employees in essential roles -- including production, service, deliveries, testing and supporting groups -- should come to work, despite a shelter in place order from the Alameda County Sheriff's Office.

This back-and-forth has been going on for days. At one point, a county spokesperson said Tesla was an essential business, and therefore exempt from the shelter in place order. This morning, the sheriff's office changed its tune and said Tesla was non-essential, but that it could maintain minimum basic operations, like providing security and processing payroll and employee benefits.

In a letter, obtained by TechCrunch, Tesla said, "We still do not have final word from the city, county, state and federal government on the status of our operations. We have had conflicting guidance from different levels of government."

Because of that, Tesla is asking employees it deems essential to come to work. Other employees may be temporarily relocated to support an essential function or need to be on call. In the letter, Tesla says employees who are not feeling well should stay at home and use paid time off (PTO). They can borrow up to 80 hours if they exhaust their PTO balance.

Earlier this week, Elon Musk told employees not to come to work if they feel "the slightest bit ill or even uncomfortable." He added that it's "totally ok if you want to stay home for any reason." Though, employees will have to use their own PTO if they do stay home, which could be a deterrent.

Engadget has reached out to Tesla for comment.

Update: Buzzfeed reports that the Alameda County Sheriff's Office said the plant will remain open, however Tesla has said it will reduce its workforce on site from about 10,000 people to 2,500.