Aunt Ann’s labor attorney, Lisa Weinberger provides information on the most recent updates regarding household employment and COVID-19 in California.
There were a flurry of COVID-19-related laws passed in 2020 and 2021 – many of which have since expired – which have caused a lot of confusion as to what employers’ obligations are today. Particularly in light of the Omicron variant, these may well change, but as of today, below are the laws and considerations of which California employers should be aware.
Please note that employers with 100+ employees may be required to follow certain federal laws, which are not addressed here.
CAL/OSHA REVISED COVID-19 EMERGENCY TEMPORARY STANDARDS
On December 16, 2021, the Cal/OSHA Standards Board revised its COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (“ETS”). A detailed explanation of this new law can be found here, and it will guide employer obligations with respect to masks, testing, and social distancing requirements; notification, quarantine, and isolation obligations for potential and confirmed cases in their workplaces; and vaccination definition information. We share this link so that you have access to the most up-to-date information, but please do not hesitate to contact Lisa if she can help guide you as COVID-related matters arise with your team.
CA STATE MASKING ORDER
On December 15, 2021, a California Department of Public Health state-wide universal indoor masking order went into effect for one month. As such, even if local laws are more lenient, California employers will need to require universal indoor masking, regardless of vaccination status, at least through January 15, 2022.
Last year, a law was passed that imposed notification obligations on employers when someone at their worksite tested positive for COVID-19. While there is nothing new to report on for this year, these notification obligations continue to exist. Lisa is always available to help explain what is needed, and draft such notices, but if you want some quick answers, you can find them here.
Mandatory vaccination policies are enforceable so long as employees are given the opportunity to request an accommodation on the basis of disability and/or sincerely-held religious beliefs.
It is important to note that employers are not necessarily required to accommodate each employee who submits an accommodation request, but are rather required to consider the request and engage in an interactive process with employees to determine whether the accommodation can be made without undue hardship. I have worked with many of you over the past year to craft personalized vaccination policies and to evaluate requests for accommodation. Please do not hesitate to contact Lisa if you would like to discuss this, especially as Omicron may change the landscape as to what is advisable to keep employees safe and at work.
One important note: many employers have enacted vaccination policies that define “full vaccination” as either one shot from Johnson & Johnson or two shots from Moderna/Pfizer. In light of the information regarding Omicron, and the importance of booster shots, some employers may wish to amend their policies to require booster shots (or to change the definition of “full vaccination” to include a booster shot).
Cal/OSHA continues to require employers to develop a written COVID-19 Prevention Program or ensure its elements are included in an existing Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP). If you do not have one of these documents prepared, now is the time. Employers should also familiarize themselves with the new Cal/OSHA ETS so that they are prepared if/when a COVID-19 case occurs with their staff.
Each employment situation is different and deserves a thoughtful approach based upon its specific dynamic. Please do not hesitate to reach out to Aunt Ann’s or Lisa Weinberger for questions and services.