New Emergency Temporary Standards for California Employers Effective June 17, 2021

The Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) placed on California employers were recently revised. After a brief period for public comments, the state adopted the new ETS on June 17. While the new ETS relaxed many rules pertaining to mask usage, it also maintained a number of requirements for many California employers. 

Some of the requirements from the original ETS that still apply going forward include: 

  • Establishing, writing, and implementing an “effective” COVID-19 prevention program. Each employer’s written prevention program must include: 
    • A report or section that identifies and evaluates employees’ exposure to health hazards related to COVID-19;
    • A description of ways to correct “unsafe and unhealthy” conditions; and
    • Guidelines for adequately washing hands and disinfecting frequently used surfaces.
  • Providing information to employees about local, state, and federal benefits and relief programs related to COVID-19.
  • Training employees on how COVID-19 is spread and ways to prevent the spread of the virus. 
  • Excluding employees who are not fully vaccinated and who are experiencing symptoms commonly identified with COVID-19. If such employees have had a close contact with someone in the workplace, employers must ensure continued wages for all affected employees. 

Recordkeeping Requirements

California employers are also still required to keep extensive records related to COVID-19 exposure and illnesses. Employers must notify employees who may qualify as a close contact to those who have contracted COVID-19. 

These reporting requirements involve obligations to report cases to local health agencies. For instance, employers must report three or more COVID-19 cases that have cropped up in a 14-day period within 48 hours. That is defined as an outbreak. A major outbreak is defined as 20 or more COVID-19 cases within a 30-day period. 

In the case of an outbreak (major or otherwise), employers must require employees to wear face coverings indoors regardless of their vaccination status. Employees must also wear face coverings outdoors when social distancing (six feet or more) is not feasible. Employers are required to offer COVID-19 testing to employees who exhibit symptoms and are not fully vaccinated or have been exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace 

Relaxed Rules

The rules that have been relaxed under the latest ETS are mostly in line with general guidance recently issued by federal and state health agencies. Fully vaccinated employees are not required to wear face coverings or socially distance except in certain situations (such as a workplace outbreak). Employers are also not required to offer COVID-19 testing to fully vaccinated employees or to exclude them from the workplace as above.

Does Your Workplace Have a Compliant COVID-19 Strategy? 
While the amended ETS is a welcome reprieve from some of the pandemic requirements, a number of obligations remain, and these are liable to change quickly as health officials continue to grapple with the coronavirus and its variants. If you need help keeping your business compliant in this new era of rapidly shifting legal requirements, give Integrated General Counsel a call. Our team has been helping California’s business community weather the effects of COVID since day one. Contact us today to find out what we can do for you.