Friday, May 14, 2021

California OSHA Issues Frequently Asked Questions to Clarify Guidance for Vaccinated Employees

On May 5, 2021, California’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) issued answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) to address employer concerns about what to do with fully vaccinated employees during a COVID-19 exposure incident at the workplace. This guidance reconciles differences between the emergency temporary standard (ETS) and guidance published by the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concerning fully vaccinated employees. Prior to this guidance, the ETS required employers to remove and quarantine fully vaccinated employees from the workplace whenever there was a confirmed positive COVID case at the worksite. In contrast, the CDC guidance provided if the fully vaccinated employee was asymptomatic there was no need for removal or quarantine.

New Guidance

The new guidance provides that employers can now follow the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) COVID-19 Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated Individuals. CDPH guidance states that fully vaccinated employees must be excluded from the workplace only when there have been COVID-19 cases at the worksite (or they have had a COVID-19 exposure) and they show symptoms of COVID-19.

Employers should follow Executive Order N-84-20 and the CDPH guidance when excluding or quarantining fully vaccinated employees from work.

Impact on Employers

Employers should become familiar with the new FAQs, the CDPH recommendations and all applicable executive orders before they exclude or quarantine fully vaccinated employees from the workplace. 

In addition, an employer should note that while CDPH guidance provides specific guidelines for workplace settings, employers must still follow the ETS requirements related to other COVID-19 issues, such as employee face coverings, social distancing and testing parameters.  

This post is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice.