I was joined by restaurant owner and entrepreneur Madelyn Alfano to discuss how she built Maria’s Italian Kitchen, a successful restaurant with multiple locations in the Los Angeles area, her perspective on entrepreneurship and leading a business, and how she navigated COVID-19.  Madelyn and I have very similar outlooks on the entrepreneurship mindset, competition, employees, and building a great company culture.  Restaurant owners, aspiring restaurant owners, and any business leader can take away a few great insights from our discussion.  For me, the following five quotes from Madelyn during our interview stood out as key insights for me:

  1. “Businesses are so afraid to be honest with their customer. Just be honest, [customers] can handle the truth!”
  2. “If you don’t know something, find someone who does it better, and hire them…or ask them to mentor you.”
  3. “Take care of your neighbors, even if they’re direct competitors, you offer that… you can be a friendly competitor, there’s nothing wrong with that.”
  4. “I think the most important thing before you expand, is treat your one restaurant as if you have multiple restaurants. Make sure you have systems in place…systems are so important…systems and protocols…everyone understands the clear constant consistent communication…everyone knows what they have to do, try to create those real habits…little habits make the difference.”
  5. “It’s not about selling food. It’s about making people feel special, and making people feel nourished and nurtured. That’s what I want people to experience when they come into Maria’s Italian Kitchen.”

 The episode is available on your favorite podcast platform, including:

Apple Podcasts


Written by Veenita Raj

With the shortage of candidates available for hire, especially in the hospitality industry, many employers are having to expand their pool of qualified candidates to include minors. There are, however, special rules and regulations that employers must follow if planning to hire minors.  While the Fair Labor and Standards Act (FLSA) regulates the employment of minors, including what hours they can work and industries, California has its own law, which is often more restrictive than the FLSA.  

Below is an overview of what employers need to know when it comes to hiring minors in California:  

School Attendance Requirements  

Minors 12 to 15 years of age must attend high school full-time unless they have graduated high school or equivalent.  

16- and 17-year-olds are not required to attend high school if they have graduated high school or have a certificate of proficiency. However, if they are regularly employed and have not graduated high school or equivalent, they must attend continuation school for at least 4 hours per week.  

Work Permit Requirements (does not apply to high school graduates or equivalent)  

Except in limited circumstances, employers are required to get a work permit issued by the minor’s school before hire, unless the minor is a high school graduate or equivalent. Once an employer agrees to hire the minor, it must obtain the work permit before the minor performs any work, including orientation or training and even if the minor does not perform any actual job duties. The school will decide whether to issue a work permit and may decide to issue the permit for the maximum hours allowed by law, to limit the hours the minor may work, or to refuse to issue a permit at all. 

Work Permits

1. Statement of Intent to Employ Minor and Request for Work Permit are completed by the minor and the employee and available here: https://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/dlseformB1-1.pdf. This form must be completed first and then Form B1-4 is completed.

2. Form B1-4 Permit to Employ and Work is issued by the minor’s school and available here: https://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/dlseformB1-4.pdf

California Child Labor Laws is a publication by the State of California that outlines restrictions on employing minors and the types of work and equipment minors are prohibited from doing and using and is available here.

Hours of Work  

Minor employees are not allowed to work unlimited hours and their work hours may depend on their age and the school calendar as follows:  

  1. When school is in session:
    • 16- and 17-year-olds may work 4 hours per day on any school day, 8 hours on any non-school day or any day preceding a non-school day, up to 48 hours per week, and between 5:00 a.m. and 10:00 p. m., except on evenings preceding non-school days, the minor may work until 12:30 a.m. 
    • Children who are 14 and 15 years of age, may work if they have not completed 7th grade, and they may work up to 3 hours on school days, 8 hours on non-school days, and up to 18 hours per week. 
    • 12- and 13-year-olds may be employed only during school holidays and weekends, and may never be employed on any school day.   
  1. When school is not in session:
    • 16- and 17-year-olds may work up to 8 hours a day, up to 48 hours a week, and between 7:00 a.m. and 12:30 a.m., on days that do not precede a school day. 
    • 12 through 15-year-olds may work up to 8 hours per day, up to 40 hours per week, and between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., except that from June 1 through Labor Day, until 9:00 p.m.   
  1. Youth who are 16 and 17 years old and enrolled in a work experience or cooperative vocational program approved by the California Department of Education may work until 12:30 a.m. on any day and may work more than 8 hours on a school day.
  2. Youth who are 14 and 15 years old may enroll in a work experience education program and be issued permits to work in full-time employment if:
    • the youth’s family needs the full-time earnings because of the death or desertion of the youth’s father and/or mother, and sufficient aid cannot be secured in any other manner; 
    • the youth needs the full-time earnings for support because he or she minor is unable to reside with his or her family; or 
    • the youth resides in foster care and, with the written authorization of their social worker, probation officer, or child protective services worker, wishes to further the goal of obtaining a court ordered Declaration of Emancipation or gain knowledge of work skills and habits. 

Wage and Hour Issues 

Minors must be paid at least the minimum wage and applicable overtime rates and must be provided with all legally required meal and rest breaks. High school graduates or the equivalent must be paid commensurate with adults when they perform the same quantity, quality, and classification of work. This includes wage rates that are above the minimum wage.  

Penalties for Violating Child Labor Laws 

Violations of child labor laws carry serious civil and criminal penalties. The more severe civil penalties generally involve employment in hazardous occupations.  Criminal violations of child labor laws are misdemeanors punishable by fines ranging up to $10,000, by jail time of up to six months, or both fines and imprisonment.  

It is critical for California employers to properly calculate the regular rate of pay for an employee in order to pay the appropriate overtime pay and for premium pay for missed meal and rest breaks.  Here are five issues employers must be aware of regarding calculating an employee’s regular rate of pay:

1. Employers must pay the “regular rate of pay” as calculated for overtime purposes when paying premium pay for missed meal and rest breaks.

As we previously reported, the California Supreme Court in Ferra v. Loews Hollywood Hotel, LLC held that the “regular rate of compensation” owed as premium wages for missed meal and rest breaks, must be calculated just as the “regular rate of pay” is calculated for overtime purposes.  While the case discussed generally what must be included in the “regular rate of pay” calculations, there are many nuances to this calculation.

 2. What compensation must be included in calculating employee’s regular rate of pay?

The DIR defines regular rate of pay as “the compensation an employee normally earns for the work they perform.  The regular rate of pay includes a number of different kinds of renumeration, such as hourly earnings, salary, piecework earning, and commissions.  In no case may the regular rate of pay be less than the applicable minimum wage.”

The Court in Ferra held that the “regular rate of pay” for missed meal breaks, just like the calculation of overtime pay, “must account for not only hourly wages but also other nondiscretionary payments for work performed by the employee.”  The Court explained that, “We use the term ‘nondiscretionary payments’ to mean payments for an employee’s work that are owed ‘pursuant to [a] prior contract, agreement, or promise,’ not ‘determined at the sole discretion of the employer.’”

3. Examples of payments that must be calculated into the regular rate of pay.

In determining the regular rate of pay, employers must include the employee’s base hourly rate plus any amounts for:

  • Shift differentials (such as premiums to work on weekends or holidays)
  • Attendance bonuses, such as those earned for weekend work is a form of incentive pay
  • Piece rate earnings
  • Commissions
  • Nondiscretionary pay and bonuses. The DIR explains, “A nondiscretionary bonus is included in determining the regular rate of pay for computing overtime when the bonus is compensation for hours worked, production or proficiency, or as an incentive to remain employed by the same employer.”

4. Examples of payments that are not included when calculating the employee’s regular rate of pay.

Unlike the nondiscretionary items listed above, an employee’s regular rate of pay does not increase for any of the following payments made to them:

  • Discretionary payments made to employees, such as gifts or bonuses that are not tied to the employee’s production, hours worked, or by formula for certain benchmarks.
  • Reimbursements for business expenses
  • Certain pay owed as required by the Labor Code, such as premium pay for missed meal and rest breaks, reporting time pay, call back pay, split shift pay.
  • Because tips are voluntarily left by customers to employees, tips do not increase an employee’s regular rate of pay for overtime calculations and premium pay.  However, if an employer implements mandatory service charges and shares these service charges with employees, the service charges must be considered wages for overtime and tax purposes.  Therefore, the employee’s regular rate of pay for overtime purposes and in calculating premium pay will be higher when mandatory service charges are distributed to the employees.

5. Employers must be aware of the proper calculation methods in determining the regular rate of pay.

Employers must carefully follow the different calculation methods to determine the employee’s regular rate of pay.  For example, the DIR sets forth how employers are to calculate the regular rate of pay for non-exempt salary employees, employee’s paid by the piece or commission, and that employers are to use a “weighted average” method for employees paid two or more rates during the workweek.  Employers must also be careful in how to calculate the regular rate of pay for nondiscretionary flat sum bonuses paid to employees.  The calculations are complex, and employers need to review the appropriate calculation method to ensure the calculation is done properly.

The Labor Code requires that an employer who “fails to provide a meal or rest or recovery period . . . shall pay the employee one additional hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate of compensation for each workday that the meal or rest or recovery period is not provided.” What does “regular rate of compensation” mean? The California Supreme Court just settled the matter in Ferra v. Loews Hollywood Hotel, LLC.

The employer (and the lower Court of Appeal) argued that “regular rate of compensation” meant the employee’s base hourly wage–i.e., what the employee would be paid for one hour of work. The plaintiff argued that it actually meant the same as “regular rate of pay” used in the context of calculating overtime, which would include adjustments to the base hourly wage for such things as shift differentials and nondiscretionary bonuses.

The California Supreme Court sided with the employee, holding that “regular rate of compensation” in the meal/rest premium context has the same meaning as “regular rate of pay” in the overtime context. The Supreme Court also ruled that its decision here applies retroactively, not just going forward.

Employers should review payroll processes to ensure compliance with this interpretation of regular rate of compensation. In addition to base hourly rate, meal and rest premium payments must take into account non-hourly forms of compensation, including commissions, piecework earnings, and nondiscretionary bonuses. Discretionary bonuses and tips do not need to be included, but restaurant employers who charge customers mandatory service charges that are then distributed to employees need to include those payments in calculating meal and rest premiums (and overtime). Employers who were paying premiums at the base hourly rate will also need to consider that the ruling applies retroactively and assess whether pay adjustments are necessary.

Co-authored by Michael Thompson

Yesterday, July 8, 2021, Zaller Law Group hosted a webinar with a speaker from Cal/OSHA discussing the revised Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) and what changes employers need to be aware of going forward.  Here are five key takeaways from the webinar we thought were interesting:

1. Managers and supervisors need to know vaccination status to enforce masking requirements.

The revised ETS requires employers to provide employees who are not fully vaccinated with face coverings of at least 2 layers or more and ensure they are worn over the nose and mouth when indoors, in vehicles and when required by orders from the CDPH.

The revised ETS provides exceptions to this general rule for: an employee who is alone in a room or vehicle, while eating or drinking provided employees are six feet apart or outside, employees wearing respirators, employees who cannot wear face coverings due to a medical or mental health condition or disability or who are hearing-impaired or communicating with a hearing-impaired person, or when an employee performs specific tasks which cannot be performed with a face covering.

Employers must also provide face coverings to employees upon request, regardless of their vaccination status.

For employers who want to permit fully-vaccinated employees to work without face coverings, an inevitable question is how to balance the confidentiality of vaccination information with the need to ensure that unvaccinated employees who are required to wear face coverings do so? Cal/OSHA clarified that where managers and supervisors are required to enforce employee masking requirements, it is appropriate for them to know which employees are fully-vaccinated.

2. If employers send employees to customers establishments to perform work, the employer may comply with customer’s requests to only have employees working who have been vaccinated.

The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) set forth that employers may require employees to receive an FDA-approved vaccination under California law.  However, employers must not discriminate against or harass employees or job applicants on the basis of protected characteristics, and must provide reasonable accommodations for disabilities or sincerely-held religious beliefs or practices.  Therefore, Cal/OSHA explained that employers may comply with customer’s requests to only have vaccinated employees working at their location.  However, employers must still provide employees with reasonable accommodations for disabilities or religious beliefs.

3. Masks designated as KN95 are acceptable as face coverings, but not as respirators.

The revised ETS defines “face covering” as a surgical mask, a medical procedure mask, a respirator worn voluntarily, or a tightly woven fabric or non-woven material of at least two layers.  A face covering has with no visible holes or openings and must, which covers the nose and mouth.  A face covering does not include a scarf, ski mask, balaclava, bandana, turtleneck, collar, or single layer of fabric.

“Respirator” is defined as a respiratory protection device approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to protect the wearer from particulate matter, such as an N95 filtering facepiece respirator.

Cal/OSHA explained that the “KN95” designation for masks is a Chinese designation, and this is not the same as a “N95” mask.  KN95 masks are not as effective of the N95 masks (plus there have been many counterfeit KN95 masks) and while acceptable as face coverings, KN95 masks do not qualify as “respirators” under the ETS.

4. Section 3205.3 and 3205.4 of the ETS addressing employer-provided housing and transportation may apply to temporary employee travel, such as conferences.

Although the generally-applicable section 3205 of the ETS contains the requirements that most employers need to know, the ETS actually has five sections. Sections 3205.1 and 3205.2 set forth heightened requirements where a workplace has had multiple employees test positive for COVID-19 in a short span of time. Section 2305.3 regulates employer-provided housing. Section 3205.4 regulates employer-provided transportation.

Many employers do not provide employee housing and do not regularly have employees traveling in groups, and so may forget these sections exist. But don’t fail to consider situations where employees may temporarily travel for work, including conventions and retreats. In those situations, Cal/OSHA advises that employers should review these specific sections to ensure compliance.

5. The revised ETS expires on January 14, 2022, but it is possible for Cal/OSHA to issue additional revisions and extend the expiration date.

In addition, the representative from Cal/OSHA discussed the possibility of Cal/OSHA making portions of the ETS permanent for California employers.  Therefore, it is critical for employers to continue to monitor any developments and revisions to the ETS to ensure compliance.

I have published this post since 2015 recognizing the Fourth of July (one of my favorite holidays).  Hopefully I’ll be able to keep publishing it for many years to come.  Wishing you a great Fourth, and hope you have some time to put aside your work for a bit and enjoy some time with your family.  Happy Fourth of July!

Five things I’m thankful for this Fourth of July:

1.     For the great risk and sacrifice our Founding Fathers took to establish the country. 

When learning about the Founding Fathers in high school history class I did not have a perspective about the risks the Founders took in establishing the country.  Only now that I have a business, a family, and am relatively successful, can I realize the huge risks the Founders took.  By all means, they were the establishment, the elite of the American society, and if anyone had an interest in preserving the status quo, it was them.  Their sacrifices of life (theirs and their family members) and their fortunes helped build the foundation we benefit from today.

2.     The ability to speak freely and practice or not practice any religion I want.

It is great being able to freely speak your mind and believe in whatever you want.  It is also great be free to practice (or not) any religion you want.  We live in a very tolerant society, and it is even better when the government is not telling you how to live your life.  It is important to remember that throughout history, this has been the exception for how a government normally behaves.

3.     Our Country’s ability to attract creative people.

People that like creating things and being productive want to practice their trade where the government will basically leave them alone and provide a good environment to protect their gains derived from their hard effort (see item #5 below).  The U.S. provides this environment, and that is why so many people come to the U.S. to create a business or to practice their trade.  It is also important to recognize how lucky we are to be in the U.S.

4.     My right to practice any profession and access to unlimited resources to learn the required skills.

No one is dictating what students need to be after they graduate high school or college.  Everyone is free to pursue their interest, and the market decides the value of the effort.  With basically any information freely available on the Internet, anyone can learn almost any skill, and like no other time in human history individuals have an almost free method to sell their services or products over the Internet.  In your mid-40’s and want to make a career change?  Perfect, and you don’t even need to go back to school as the information is freely available on the Internet.  Didn’t finish college and are 20 years old with an idea?  Perfect.  Venture capitalists don’t care about your pedigree, they are only interested if you work hard and don’t give up.

5.     Our legal system.

Yes, it sounds trite.  But while I don’t think our legal system is perfect by any means, it is the best system established in the history of mankind.  Everyone living in the U.S. presently is very lucky to have this benefit.  It is a foundation for many of the items I mentioned above.  Because people have a good basis for predicting the outcomes of their actions, such as being able to retain property legally obtained, and knowing if someone breaches a contract there will be repercussions, it creates an environment that attracts hard effort and the best talent from around the world.  This is why the U.S. has been the leader in ideas and new businesses.  However, just because the system is established does not mean our work is done.  We have to be vigilant not to lose the fairness, reasonableness, and lack of corruption in the legal system.

Happy Fourth of July. Looking forward to the parade taking place again this year getting some surfing in with my family.

Today, June 29, 2021, Cal/OSHA published a revised COVID-19 Model Prevention Program that reflect the changes made to the Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) on June 17, 2021.

The revised COVID-19 Model Prevention Program can be downloaded from Cal/OSHA’s website here.

Most employers in California are required to establish and implement an effective written COVID-19 Prevention Program (CPP) pursuant to the Emergency Temporary Standards in place for COVID-19 (California Code of Regulations (CCR), Title 8, section 3205(c)). Cal/OSHA publishes this model program to assist employers with creating their own unique CPP tailored to their workplace.  While using the model CPP does not ensure the employer is meeting all requirements of the ETS, it is a useful starting document for employers.

California employers need to review their practices and policies to ensure compliance with the various local minimum wage increases taking effect across California on July 1, 2021.  Here are five items employers should consider prior to the July 1 deadline:

1. Ensure the company understands which city and county they are located within.

Many of the cities and counties provide resources to help companies determine if they are located within the city’s or county’s jurisdiction.  For example, the City of Los Angeles provides this resource.

2. Ensure employees who travel and work in other cities and counties are being paid the appropriate minimum wage.

Many of the local ordinances that require a higher minimum wage than the state minimum wage set forth when the city or county law will cover an employee who works within its jurisdiction.  For examples, Santa Monica and the City of Los Angeles assert jurisdiction over employees who work within their jurisdiction for two hours a week:

  • Santa Monica:  Law applies to any employee working a minimum of two hours within Santa Monica in a given week (even if employer is located outside of Santa Monica).
  • City of Los Angeles: Ordinance applies to “[a]n employee … who performs at least two hours of work in a particular week within the City of Los Angeles….”

Employers should review the various jurisdictions that their employees may travel into to ensure compliance with those requirements.

3.Ensure pay stubs reflect the increased minimum wage (as well as all other requirements).

The DIR provides an example of a pay stub for an hourly employee the meets all of the required items under Labor Code section 226:

Ensure that all employees earning minimum wage who are covered by a local minimum wage increase on July 1, 2021 are updated to reflect the increased minimum wage amounts.

4. Update posters to ensure the compliant posters are being used in the workplace.

Many local cities and counties have issued updated posters to reflect the increased minimum wage as of July 1, 2021.  Employers should review to ensure they are using the most current versions of the posters as of July 1, 2021.  Here are a few links to cities and county posters in Southern California:

County of Los Angeles required notices:

City of Los Angeles required notices:

Pasadena’s required notices:

Santa Monica’s required notices:

  • July 1, 2021 Legal notice (English) (Spanish) (note that employers in Santa Monica are required to post both English and Spanish notices, even if they do not employ any Spanish speaking employees)
  • Posters in other languages can be downloaded here

Malibu’s required notice:

City of San Diego’s required notices:

5. Update notices to employee who are hired on or after July 1, 2019.

Notices to Employee required under Labor Code section 2810.5 must be issued to all nonexempt employees when they start work.  The wage information section must reflect the higher minimum wage for minimum wage workers as of July 1, 2021.  Accordingly, the overtime rates of pay section of the Notice must also be updated to reflect the higher rates as a result of the higher minimum wage requirements.

Masks. Vaccination. Training. Testing. The recently-revised Cal/OSHA Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) fundamentally rewrite employer obligations with respect to protecting employees from COVID-19.

But what does the revised ETS say about excluding employees from the workplace over COVID-19 concerns? And what about the controversial pay requirements in the original ETS?

Who Must Be Excluded?

The revised ETS require employers to exclude from the workplace “COVID-19 cases,” which include persons who are positive for COVID-19, either by a test or diagnosis by a licensed health care provider. It also includes persons ordered to isolate by a local or state health official.

The revised ETS also require employers to exclude employees who had a “close contact” with a COVID-19 case, which means being within six feet for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more in a 24-hour period during the COVID-19 case’s “high-risk exposure period.” This period generally starts two days before the person first developed symptoms, or two days before a positive-test-specimen was collected.

There are two notable exceptions for close-contact exclusion. First, employees who are fully-vaccinated (as documented by the employer) before the close contact do not have to be excluded so long as they do not develop COVID-19 symptoms. Second, employees who were previously excluded from the workplace for testing positive are not subject to close-contact exclusion for a period of 90 days, measured from their prior onset of symptoms or positive test.

How Long Must They Be Excluded?

COVID-positive employees with symptoms can’t return to work until they meet all three of the following criteria: (1) at least 24 hours have passed since a fever (100.4 degrees) has resolved without use of fever-reducing medications; (2) other COVID-19 symptoms have improved; and (3) at least 10 days have passed since COVID-19 symptoms first appeared.

COVID-19 positive employees who are asymptomatic must remain out for at least 10 days since the specimen collection of their first positive test.

Employers are not permitted to require a negative test as an additional requirement to return after the employees meet the above return-to-work criteria.

Close contacts who never develop COVID-19 symptoms may return after 10 days have passed since the close contact.

Close contacts who develop symptoms must either complete the return-to-work requirements described above for symptomatic COVID-positive employees, or alternatively meet the following criteria to return: (1) a negative PCR test taken after the onset of symptoms; (2) at least 10 days have passed since the last known close contact; and (3) symptom-free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication.

There are reduced return-to-work requirements for health care workers, emergency responders, and social service workers during critical staffing shortages.

Must The Employee Be Paid While Excluded?

While employees are excluded under the revised ETS, employers “shall continue and maintain an employee’s earnings, wages, seniority, and all other employee rights and benefits, including the employee’s right to their former job status, as if the employee had not been removed from their job.” Wages must be paid at the regular rate of pay no later than the regular pay day for the pay period. Employers may require employees to use sick leave for this purpose, but must maintain earnings even if no sick leave is available. At the time of exclusion, employers must provide excluded employees information on this benefit, as well as any other COVID-19-related benefits available under applicable law or company policy.

Notably, whereas the original version of the ETS included a requirement that the excluded employee be otherwise able and available to work in order to qualify for exclusion pay, that requirement is deleted in the revised ETS.

There are two primary exceptions. First, exclusion pay is not required where the employee receives disability payments or temporary disability under workers’ compensation. Second, exclusion pay is not required for close-contact exclusions where the employer can demonstrate the close contact is not work-related. If utilizing one of these exceptions, the employer must inform the employee of the denial and the applicable exception.

In addition, the revised ETS does not apply to the following: (1) work locations with one employee who does not have contact with other persons; (2) employees working from home; (3) facilities covered under the Aerosol Transmissible Diseases requirements; and (4) employees teleworking from a location of the employee’s choice.

What Else?

Have any questions or want to know more about the new revised ETS? Join us for our June 29 webinar on the new-look ETS (or watch it on demand).

As we previous wrote about here, on June 17, 2021, the Board for Cal/OSHA approved revisions to the Emergency Temporary Standards (“ETS”) that govern employer’s duties to fight COVID-19.  The Governor signed an Executive Order making the revised ETS effective the same day.  On June 18, Cal/OSHA published FAQs regarding the new revised ETS.  Here are five key issues employers should understand about the newly published FAQs:

1. Important Changes Under the Revised ETS

The FAQs explain some of the changes made by the June ETS from the original November 2020 ETS.  Some of these changes include:

  • Fully vaccinated employees without symptoms do not need to be tested or quarantined after close contacts with COVID-19 cases unless they have symptoms.
  • No face covering requirements outdoors (except during outbreaks), regardless of vaccination status, though workers must be trained on CDPH recommendations for outdoor use of face coverings.
  • Employers may allow fully vaccinated employees not to wear face coverings indoors, but must document their vaccination status (see below for more details about documenting employee status)
  • No physical distancing or barrier requirements regardless of employee vaccination status with the following exceptions:
    • Employers must evaluate whether it is necessary to implement physical distancing and barriers during an outbreak (3 or more cases in an exposed group of employees)
    • Employers must implement physical distancing and barriers during a major outbreak (20 or more cases in an exposed group of employees)

2. Documenting Vaccination Status

The FAQs note that the revised ETS requires employers to document employee’s vaccination status, but does not set forth how employers are supposed to document vaccination status and what steps must be taken to document status.  FAQs provide the following are acceptable options:

  • Employees provide proof of vaccination (vaccine card, image of vaccine card or health care document showing vaccination status) and employer maintains a copy.
  • Employees provide proof of vaccination. The employer maintains a record of the employees who presented proof, but not the vaccine record itself.
  • Employees self-attest to vaccination status and employer maintains a record of who self-attests.

The FAQs also provide employers are not required to have employees submit proof of being vaccinated.  The FAQs then state the employees have the right to decline to state if they have been vaccinated or not, and then employers must treat these employees as unvaccinated “and must not take disciplinary or discriminatory action against the employee.”  This guidance set forth in the FAQs seems contrary to the DFEH’s guidance that employers may require employees to be vaccinated.  Logically, if employers can require employees to be vaccinated, they should also have the ability to ask for proof of vaccination.

3. Testing Offered To Employees

The FAQs explain that employers must offer testing at no cost to employees during paid time to:

  • Symptomatic unvaccinated employees, regardless of whether there is a known exposure. This is a new requirement.
  • Unvaccinated employees after an exposure.
  • Vaccinated employees after an exposure if they develop symptoms.
  • Unvaccinated employees in an outbreak.
  • All employees in a major outbreak.

4. When Employers Must Provide Respirators

The FAQs explain that employers must provide respirators to employees under two circumstances:

  • To any unvaccinated employee who works with others indoors or in a vehicle and who requests one and
  • Where there is a major outbreak (defined as 20 or more cases in an exposed group of employees), to any employees in the exposed group for voluntary use.

5. Requirements Still in Place Under the November 2020 ETS

Employers are reminded that these revised ETS change some requirements for employers, but there are many requirements that are still in place under the November 2020 ETS that employers must follow.  Some of these requirements include:

  • An effective written COVID-19 Prevention Program.
  • Providing effective training and instruction to employees on the employer’s prevention plan and their rights under the ETS.
  • Providing notification to public health departments of outbreaks.
  • Providing notification to employees of exposure and close contacts.
  • Requirements to offer testing after potential exposures.
  • Requirements for responding to COVID-19 cases and outbreaks.
  • Quarantine and exclusion pay requirements.
  • Basic prevention requirements for employer-provided housing and transportation.