Cal/OSHA Updates COVID-19 Workplace Standards
Revised FAQs Include How to Handle Vaccinated Employees Exposed to COVID-19
Yesterday, California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health updated its FAQ post on the COVID-19 Emergency Testing Standards, applying Executive Order N-84-20 and the new California Department of Public Health COVID-19 Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated Individuals. These revisions and additions to the FAQ clearly establish that employers do not need to exclude fully vaccinated employees from the workplace if they are exposed to COVID-19, as long as they remain asymptomatic.
The revisions also clarify that a 10-day quarantine period and exclusion from work applies when an unvaccinated employee is exposed to COVID-19; however a 14-day period is still recommended. The FAQ provide further support and a valid business reason for employers to ask about employees’ vaccination status, which the DFEH and EEOC have already advised is permissible.
Updates and Changes to the Cal/OSHA ETS FAQs
Exposed Workplace Q&A No. 12 – Updated Language
Q: When must an employer exclude employees from work?
A: Employers must exclude from work employees who are not fully vaccinated if they (1) are COVID-19 cases, or (2) have had COVID-19 exposure. Applying Executive Order N-84-20 and the new CDPH COVID-19 Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated Individuals, employers must also exclude fully vaccinated employees if they (1) are COVID-19 cases, or (2) have had a COVID-19 exposure and exhibit COVID-19 symptoms. However, employers do not need to exclude fully vaccinated employees who had a COVID-19 exposure who are asymptomatic.
Exposed Workplace Q&A No. 14 – Link Added to EO N-84-20
Q: What are the criteria for an employee who is not fully vaccinated and exposed to a COVID-19 case to return to work?
A: Applying Executive Order N-84-20 and the CDPH quarantine guidance, while a 14-day quarantine is recommended, an exposed employee who does not develop symptoms of COVID-19 may return to work after 10 days have passed since the date of last known exposure. Additionally, CDPH has provided guidance permitting health care, emergency response and social services workers to return to work after 7 days with a negative PCR test result collected after day 5 when there is a critical staffing shortage.
Exposed Workplace Q&A No. 15 – Updated
Q: What are the quarantine requirements for a fully vaccinated employee exposed to a COVID-19 case?
A: Applying Executive Order N-84-20 and the new CDPH COVID-19 Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People, an exposed employee who does not develop symptoms of COVID-19, does not need to quarantine.
Testing Q&A No. 9 - Updated
Q: In a non-outbreak setting, what are employers required to do when they learn that one or more of their employees had a COVID-19 exposure at the workplace?
A: Employers must:
- Notify all employees and employees' authorized representatives who may have had COVID-19 exposure within one business day in a manner that does not reveal the COVID-19 case's personal identifying information.
- Offer testing at no cost to any employee potentially exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace, and provide applicable benefit information. The time an employee spends being tested is considered compensable hours worked.
- Exclude from the workplace employees who test positive for COVID-19, and exclude employees with COVID-19 exposure unless they are fully vaccinated and do not show any symptoms of COVID-19, and follow the requirements for preserving their pay and benefits.
- Follow the return to work criteria for returning excluded employees to work.
- Investigate the exposure and address hazards.
- Follow all recordkeeping and reporting requirements for employee COVID-19 cases.
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