Updates to California Workplace COVID Guidelines

With the availability of vaccine appointments increasing, wider eligibility for workers as young as teenagers, and the loosening restrictions on masks by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Cal/OSHA has made significant updates to its guidelines regarding COVID-19 and employees in the workplace. These updates could impact thousands of workers across California, and it is important to understand your rights as well as the rights of the employers under the new guidelines for workplace safety. If you have questions about this or any other legal concern at work, talk to a knowledgeable employment law attorney today.

Face Covering Requirements

Even though the CDC has recently announced that fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks inside or outside, the Cal/OSHA guidelines for wearing masks in the workplace remains in effect. However, exceptions have been delineated which state that masks do not have to be worn if all employees in a room are fully vaccinated and symptom-free or if all employees are outdoors, fully vaccinated, and symptom-free.

Exclusion Requirements

Under the updated guidelines, employees who are fully vaccinated or have had COVID-19 within the last 90 days do not need to quarantine for two weeks if they have been exposed to someone who has the disease so long as the employee remains asymptomatic. These loosened guidelines also allow for employers to avoid Exclusion Pay requirements for fully vaccinated employees or those who have had COVID-19 recently. This is also meant to help alleviate staffing shortages and production impacts for companies as more people will be allowed to remain at work.

Outbreak Guidelines

According to the new guidelines, if there is an outbreak of COVID-19 at work any employee in the exposed group that was not wearing a respirator must be separated from others by at least six feet unless it is impossible to do so. For employees at fixed workstations, cleanable partitions must be installed to protect workers. The new guidelines provide that fully vaccinated employees and those who have had COVID-19 within the last 90 days are no longer subject to the weekly testing requirements for an outbreak at work.

Provisions Effective July 31

Cal/OSHA has also determined that a number of new provisions will go into effect on July 31, 2021 for its Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS). The first is that employers must provide respirators to all unvaccinated employees working indoors, and the second requires employers to provide COVID-19 testing on paid time to any unvaccinated employee showing symptoms of the disease. Prior to these new ETS guidelines, employers must still enforce physical social distancing requirements unless all employees are vaccinated or wearing respirators.

Talk to a Lawyer Today

These new guidelines for COVID-19 protocols in the workplace are a substantial change from the requirements of the last year. If you have concerns about the new COVID-19 guidelines for California workplaces or believe that your employment rights are being violated, talk to an experienced California employment law attorney in your area today.