Because the Cal/OSHA Standards Board has just pulled back the revisions to the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) and will consider other revisions at its June 17th meeting, we have rescheduled our webinar “Cal/OSHA’s Revised COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard” for June 18, 2021, at 10 a.m. PT.
As background, the Standards Board voted to withdraw the recently approved revised version of the ETS. The Division is going to introduce by Friday June 11th a new proposed revised ETS that better aligns with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and California Department of Public Health guidance (i.e., no masking for fully vaccinated workers even if there are some unvaccinated people present). The new revised ETS that is expected to issue will be voted on at the Board’s next scheduled meeting on June 17th and, if approved, go into effect on June 28th. Between now and June 28th, the original ETS remains in effect.
Yesterday, June 3, 2021, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (Board) convened and, in a bizarre turn of events, voted against, and then, moments later, voted to approve, Cal/OSHA’s revised COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). The revised ETS is expected to take effect on June 15, 2021.
The Board initially voted 4-3 against adoption of the revised ETS, and next voted to set up a Subcommittee of three Board members to meet with the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Division) to make the rule “better.” The Board members rejecting the proposal had expressed concern over the clarity of the vaccination documentation requirement, the continued use of face masks in the workplace, and the mandate for employers to provide N95 respirators for unvaccinated workers. Yet, the stated goals for this Subcommittee are ambiguous, to say the least.
At that point, the Board members expressed concern about the existing ETS remaining in effect indefinitely in the meantime, and took a break apparently to confer over whether to reconsider their earlier vote. After returning to the meeting, the Board voted unanimously, without explanation, to Continue reading →
Here is a summary of the vaccine section of the guidance:
May employers ask employees about vaccination status under federal law? See FAQs K9, K5, K15, K16, K18, K19
Yes – does not violate ADA or GINA.
However, employer should not ask “why” an employee is unvaccinated, as this could compel the employee to reveal disability information that is protected under the ADA and/or GINA.
Recommended practice: If employer requires documentation or other confirmation of vaccination, “notify all employees that the employer will consider requests for reasonable accommodation based on disability on an individualized basis.”
Is vaccination information “confidential” under the ADA? See FAQ K4
Yes, this includes documentation (i.e., the white vaccination card) or “other confirmation” of vaccination, which we presume means any self-attestation form or email from the employee, as well as any record, matrix, spreadsheet, or checklist created by the employer after viewing employees’ vaccination cards or receiving a verbal confirmations from employees.
The records or information must be kept confidential and stored separately from employee personnel files.
How may employers encourage employees and family members to get vaccinated? See FAQ K3Continue reading →
On May 19, Oregon OSHA issued a Statement Regarding Vaccination Status in Relation to Oregon’s Facial Covering and Social Distancing Requirements in which it advises that employers may discontinue enforcing face covering and physical distancing requirements as to employees and/or visitors (which apparently includes customers) only if the employer verifies the vaccination status of any such individuals attempting to enter without a face covering. Notably, Oregon OSHA further advises that the employer must enforce the physical distancing and facial covering requirements without regard to the exemption with respect to anyone who refuses to provide verification of their vaccination status. Over the past year, many retailers struggled to craft a workable policy that complied with the intent of Oregon OSHA’s expectation that they deny entry/refuse service to customers who refuse to wear a mask. As we discussed in prior blog posts, placing front line retail workers in such a position was not only infeasible, but it put them at greater risk of harm by customers who reacted in a violent manner when asked to wear a face covering. It remains to be seen, however, whether Oregon OSHA will adopt a rational approach respect to vaccination status verification requirements for retailers and other employers with public-facing operations.
Notably, Oregon OSHA’s Statement references the Oregon Health Authority’s May 18 Interim Guidance for Vaccinated Individuals, which includes retailers in the definition of a covered business; it does not, however define visitor. We nonetheless read the OHA’s Interim Guidance and the OR OSHA Statement together to treat customers/shoppers as visitors. According to the OR Health Authority, a business must continue to enforce the physical distancing and face covering requirements unless it: Continue reading →
Our national OSHA Practice at Conn Maciel Carey has been advocating hard to OSHA about COVID-19 related recordkeeping issues. One of those issues has been the recordability of adverse reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine. Specifically, if we want to encourage more workers to get vaccinated, and to encourage more employers to mandate, incentivize, or encourage employees to get vaccinated, OSHA should not require employers to record adverse reactions to the vaccines as days away illnesses on their 300 Logs.
Many people have experienced something of a flu-like reaction to the COVID-19 vaccines, and often have required at least a day away from work the day after the second dose. OSHA had previously indicated that many of these reactions would be recordable on the OSHA 300 Log, especially if the employer required or strongly encouraged the vaccine, or if the circumstances of the job made vaccination something of a de facto requirement.
In mid-April, OSHA clarified its position in a couple of FAQs about the recordability of adverse reactions to the vaccine in a couple of FAQs on its COVID-19 page. At that time, OSHA said: Continue reading →
As the number of vaccinated individuals continues to increase and we are seeing a significant decrease in COVID-19 cases, the landscape of legal requirements applicable to employers and employees is changing, particularly related to employees who are fully vaccinated. Indeed, in an unexpected update to its guidance last week, the CDC stated that fully vaccinated individuals may resume essentially all indoor and outdoor pre-pandemic activities in almost all circumstances. Although federal agencies such as OSHA and the EEOC have not yet updated their relevant guidance on treatment of vaccinated workers to reflect these changes, they both have stated their intent to address, and in OSHA’s case follow, the CDC guidance, and many states are doing the same.
Accordingly, employers now, more than ever, must understand and may want to take certain actions based on the vaccination status of their workers. However, obtaining information on an employee’s status and using that information to dictate policies and practices in the work environment has legal implications and raises many important questions that could pose difficulties for employers who want to ensure that they proceed in compliance with applicable laws. Below, we provide answers to questions we have received related to employee vaccination status as well as tips to effectively deal with these novel and complex issues.
Question 1: Can employers ask employees about their COVID-19 vaccination status?
Yes, but employers should be mindful of compliance with federal and state laws on disability, privacy and discrimination. If the employer requests confirmation and/or proof that an employee has been fully vaccinated, this should be a simple, straightforward inquiry to determine an employee’s current vaccination status. Such a simple, general inquiry is legitimate and would be considered permissible under applicable employment laws, particularly if it is made to determine whether: Continue reading →
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued new guidance yesterday – COVID-19 Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People – that affects some aspects of Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 ETS. For purposes of this discussion, people are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 either two weeks or more after they receive the second dose in a two-dose series (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna), or two weeks of more after they received a single-dose vaccine (Johnson and Johnson/Janssen).
Relevant to application of Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 ETS requirements to fully vaccinated workers, the new CDPH guidance provides that in a workplace setting, fully vaccinated workers are no longer required to quarantine following a known exposure at work, so long as the exposed vaccinated worker remains asymptomatic. But that is as far as the guidance goes in providing relief under Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 ETS for vaccinated workers.
Specifically, employers must still follow all other requirements of the ETS with respect to fully vaccinated workers. Regardless of vaccination status, an exposed fully vaccinated worker or a fully vaccinated worker who is part of a group of workers covered by an outbreak determination must still Continue reading →
Are you curious how the COVID-19 vaccine distribution effort works or is intended to work? Is your organization considering standing up an onsite vaccination program or looking into options to facilitate the vaccination of your employees? As this country embarks on a massive undertaking that involves a series of remarkable public/private partnerships, many employers are anxious to better understand how the supply chain works, who is making prioritization decisions and why, and what they can do now to help increase the number of arms that receive shots. If you have questions about these issues or other vaccine rollout-related matters, we hope you will join us for an informative panel discussion moderated by Aaron Gelb, Partner in Charge of Conn Maciel Carey’s Chicago Office with special guests:
Lori Tremmel Freeman, CEO of the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO)
Michelle Kite, Retail Health and Safety Manager at Walgreens
Sonali Kshatriya, Pharmacist and Manager on the Walgreens Clinical Team
Fern Fleischer-Daves, OSHA Attorney at Conn Maciel Carey