While California employers anxiously await the Cal/OSHA Standards Board to publish its proposed revisions to the COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), it quietly updated its ETS guidance on May 5, 2021. The updated guidance is underwhelming and concerning, particularly because the Board previously announced the ETS revisions will be made public on May 7, 2021.
The updated FAQ essentially provides formal guidance when analyzing the ETS with the December 14, 2020 Executive Order N-84-20 and the May 3, 2021 CDPH COVID-19 Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People. While the updated guidance makes several revisions, the guidance essentially makes one substantive change:
- Following a COVID-19 exposure, fully vaccinated employees do not need to be excluded from the workforce so long as the employees remain asymptomatic.
In other words, a fully vaccinated, asymptomatic employee does not need to quarantine after a COVID-19 exposure. The requirements for benefits and pay remain the same. This is significant as prior guidance explicitly made no distinction between vaccinated and non-vaccinated employees.
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.