On June 17, 2021, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (Cal-OSHA) voted to eliminate mask requirements for vaccinated employees. Almost immediately after Cal-OSHA’s vote, Governor Gavin Newson signed an executive order to allow the new laws to take place immediately. Accordingly, effective yesterday, June 17, 2021, vaccinated employees no longer need to wear masks in the workplace.
Employees are considered vaccinated if the employer has received documentation that 14 days have elapsed since the employee received the second dose in a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine or 14 days have elapsed since the employee received a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine. Employers must continue to require unvaccinated employees to wear face coverings (note that face covering is now defined more narrowly to include only a surgical mask, a medical procedure mask, a respirator worn voluntarily, or a tightly woven fabric or non-woven material of at least two layers) except under limited scenarios. Employers must provide unvaccinated employees face coverings (and must provide face coverings to vaccinated employees upon request) at no cost to the employees and must allow all employees to wear face coverings at work, regardless of vaccination status, without fear of retaliation. Additionally, employers must provide unvaccinated employees properly fitted N-95 masks or other respirators upon request at no cost to the employees and must provide training regarding how to wear the respirators. Social distancing is only required in limited scenarios for unvaccinated employees where they are not wearing masks due to the nature of the job, medical conditions, or because they are eating or drinking.
The new laws continue to require employers to (1) develop a written COVID-19 Prevention Program, which may be integrated into the employer’s Injury and Illness Prevention Program; (2) provide COVID-19 testing to symptomatic employees during employees’ paid time (3) provide notice of positive COVID-19 cases or outbreaks in the workplace; (4) make COVID-19 testing available to unvaccinated employees who had close contact with an employee testing positive for COVID-19 at no cost to the employees and during the employees’ paid working time (no testing is required for employees who have recovered from COVID-19 and have remained symptom-free for 90 days); (5) exclude employees testing positive for COVID-19 and those unvaccinated employees who had close contact with the employees testing positive for COVID-19 from the workplace while maintaining those employees’ pay and benefits (no testing is required for employees who have recovered from COVID-19 and have remained symptom-free for 90 days); and (6) report information about positive cases and outbreaks to the local health department when required by law.
There are additional requirements for employers who provide housing or transportation and where there are multiple COVID-19 infections or an outbreak in the workplace. Please contact your Hill Farrer attorney or any member of our Labor and Employment department for additional information and assistance with complying with these new standards.