Last week, Cal/OSHA passed new COVID rules applicable to most businesses throughout the state, and Governor Newsom has signed those rules into law so that they are effective immediately. The changes include the following:
- Face Coverings: Consistent with CA Dept of Public Health Guidance, face coverings are no longer required for fully vaccinated employees except during workplace COVID-19 outbreaks, in public transit, indoors in K-12 schools and other childcare settings, in healthcare settings, and limited other sectors. Employees who are not fully vaccinated must wear face coverings when indoors and when in vehicles with others, and they must be given the option to request that the employer provide a respirator (e.g., N95 masks) for their voluntary use when working indoors or in a vehicle with others. Employers may not retaliate against employees for wearing face coverings.
- Physical Distancing/Barriers: All distancing requirements have been removed regardless of employee vaccination status. Employers must evaluate whether to implement distancing protocols in the event of a workplace COVID-19 outbreak.
- COVID-19 Testing: Employers must provide free COVID testing during paid working time to all employees who are not fully vaccinated and who have COVID-19 symptoms. In the event of a positive case in the workplace, all employees who came into close contact with the infected individual must quarantine for at least 10 days during paid working time and must be given the opportunity to obtain free COVID-19 testing during paid time with the following exceptions: employees do not need to quarantine or be tested if (1) they are symptom free and (2) they’ve either (a) been fully vaccinated or (b) had COVID in the previous 90 days. Different requirements apply in the event of a workplace COVID-19 outbreak.
- Vaccines: To be considered “fully vaccinated,” the employee must have provided documentation to the employer demonstrating that the employee received, at least 14 days prior, either the second dose in a two-dose vaccine series or a single-dose vaccine authorized by the FDA or the World Health Organization. Cal/OSHA has authorized the following as acceptable forms of documentation (whatever method the employer chooses, the employer must keep such records/information confidential):
- Employees provide proof of vaccination (vaccine card, image of vaccine card or health care document showing vaccination status) and employer maintains a copy.
- Employees provide proof of vaccination. The employer maintains a record of the employees who presented proof, but not the vaccine record itself.
- Employees self-attest to vaccination status and employer maintains a record of who self-attests.
A Press Release from Cal/OSHA summarizing the key changes is available here and updated FAQs are available here.
All employers must continue to implement a written COVID-19 Prevention Program detailing their policies with respect to all of the above, in addition to symptom-screening requirements, cleaning and disinfection protocols, and other infection prevention policies.
For more information about this development or any other employment-related matters, please contact a Bernstein & Friedland, P.C. attorney at 818-817-7570.
The above summary has been prepared for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice.
Bernstein & Friedland, P.C. is a boutique employment law firm in Los Angeles specializing in wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and unpaid wage and overtime matters. Please visit our website at www.laemploymentcounsel.com to learn more about us.