On January 14, 2022, Cal/OSHA published fact sheets and updated its FAQs on COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS).  The fact sheets clarify the isolation and quarantine requirements for employers and employees (the image above is a portion of the fact sheet published by Cal/OSHA).  A major clarification from Cal/OSHA set forth that employees who are booster-eligible, but who have not yet received the booster, if exposed to someone with COVID-19 they do not need to quarantine as long as they are asymptomatic and must receive a negative test 3-5 days after the close contact.

Cal/OSHA’s updated FAQs can be found here.

The fact sheets can be found here:

[Updated to reflect guidance issued on January 14, 2022 – What Employers and Workers Need to Know About COVID-19 Isolation and Quarantine]

On January 6, 2022, Cal/OSHA issued updated FAQs to incorporate new isolation and quarantine recommendations from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), which were also issued on January 6.

Until January 14, 2022, California employers subject to the ETS must follow the isolation and quarantine requirements set by the June 17, 2021 ETS.

As set forth in Cal/OSHA’s FAQs, on January 14, 2022, the CDPH’s recommendations set forth on January 6, 2022 will replace exclusion period and return to work requirements for all workers, and the following isolation and quarantine rules will apply to employers:

Exclusion requirements for employees who test positive for COVID-19 (isolation)

Any employees who test positive for COVID-19 (regardless of vaccination status, lack of symptoms or prior infections) must:

  • Be excluded from the workplace for at least 5 days
  • Isolation can end and employees may return to the workplace after day 5 if symptoms are not present or are resolving, and a diagnostic specimen (antigen test preferred) collected on day 5 or later tests negative.
  • If an employee is unable or chooses not to test and their symptoms are not present or are resolving, isolation can end and the employee may return to the workplace after day 10.
  • If an employee has a fever, isolation must continue and the employee may not return to work until the fever resolves.
  • If an employee’s symptoms other than fever are not resolving, they may not return to work until their symptoms are resolving or until after day 10 from the positive test.
  • Employees must wear face coverings around others for a total of 10 days after the positive test, especially in indoor settings.

Quarantine requirements for employees who are exposed to COVID-19 (quarantine)

Any employees who are unvaccinated (including those previously infected within the last 90 days) or who have been vaccinated and are booster-eligible but have not yet received their booster dose must:

  • Be excluded from the workplace for at least 5 days after their last close contact with a person who has COVID-19.
  • Exposed employees must test on day 5.
  • Quarantine can end and exposed employees may return to the workplace after day 5 if symptoms are not present and a diagnostic specimen collected on day 5 or later tests negative.
  • If an employee is unable or chooses not to test and does not have symptoms, quarantine can end, and the employee may return to the workplace after day 10.
  • Employees must wear face coverings around others for a total of 10 days after exposure, especially in indoor settings.
  • If an exposed employee tests positive for COVID-19, they must follow the isolation requirements above.
  • If an exposed employee develops symptoms, they must be excluded pending the results of a test.

However, exposed employees who are vaccinated and booster-eligible but have not received their booster yet and who are asymptomatic do not need to be excluded from work if:

  1. The employee receives a negative diagnostic test obtained within 3 to 5 days after last exposure to a case;
  2. The employee wears a face covering around others for a total of 10 days after exposure; and
  3. Employee continues to have no symptoms.

Employees who are exposed to COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if:

  1. The employees are boosted, or vaccinated, but not yet booster-eligible
  2. Must test on day 5 after exposure with a negative result. If employee cannot be tested, as of January 14, 2022, the employee does not have to quarantine but must wear a face covering and maintain six feet of distance from others for 14 days following the close contact.
  3. Wear face coverings around other for 10 days after exposure, especially in indoor settings.
  4. However, if the employee tests positive, they must follow the isolation recommendations above, and if the employee develops symptoms, they must be excluded pending the results of a test.

Cal/OSHA readopted the COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) on December 16, 2021.  While a large portion of the existing ETS remains in place, there were a few changes made in this newly adopted ETS.  The new ETS approved on December 16 will take effect on January 14, 2022.  This Friday’s Five provides a summary of some of key revisions employers must be aware of:

1. Testing requirements are modified.

The revised ETS provide that an acceptable COVID-19 test cannot be self-administered and self-read.  The employer or an authorized telehealth proctor must observe a self-administered test for it to qualify as a COVID-19 test under the ETS.

The revised ETS obligates employers to provide testing to employees if they have had a close COVID-19 contact, even if they are fully vaccinated.  This is a change from the prior version of the ETS that did not require employer to provide testing to employees who were fully vaccinated.

The revised ETS also requires employers to provide testing at no costs to all employees during an outbreak, even those who were fully vaccinated.  The prior version of the ETS did not require employers to provide testing to fully vaccinated employees who did not have symptoms during an outbreak.

2. Face covering definition has been updated (in addition to California’s updated mask mandate in place from December 15, 2021 through January 15, 2022).

The definition for face covering was updated to include a requirement that the face covering is made of “fabrics that do not let light pass through when held up to a light source.”  These include surgical mask, medical procedure masks, a respirator worn voluntarily, or a tightly woven fabric or non-woven material of at least tow layers.  Gaiters are permitted if they have “two layers of fabric or be folded to make two layers.”

Separate from the ETS, California’s Department of Public Health implemented a new mandate on face coverings, requiring all individuals, vaccinated and unvaccinated, to wear a mask in all indoor public settings in California.  The guidance applies to workplaces regardless of whether they serve the public or are open to the public.  This requirement is in place from December 15, 2021 through January 15, 2022.  More information about the face covering requirements, visit the CDPH website here.

3. Worksite definition is clarified.

The ETS clarified in the definition of “worksite” that it does not include “location where the worker worked by themselves without exposure to other employees, or to a worker’s personal residence or alternative work location chosen by the worker when working remotely.”  This revised definition potentially narrows the number of employees that notice must be provided when there is COVID-19 at the workplace.

4. Requires face coverings during screenings, even for vaccinated people.

Under the revised ETS, employers must ensure that workplace screeners and employees being screened for COVID-19 must wear face coverings.  The prior version of the ETS permitted the screeners and employees not to wear face coverings if they were fully vaccinated.

5. Exclusion from the workplace requirements modified.

In terms of employer’s obligations to exclude employees from the workplace, the revised ETS changed these requirements:

Fully Vaccinated

The revised ETS requires fully vaccinated employees who have a close contact to be excluded unless they (1) do not develop symptoms, (2) wear a face covering and maintain six feet of distance from others for 14 days following the close contact.  The requirement that they must wear a face covering is a new requirement that was not included in the prior ETS.

Likewise, employees who have recovered from a COVID-19 infection in the prior 90 days and do not have symptoms, can return to work after a close contact as long as they wear a face covering and maintain six feet of distance from others for 14 days following the close contact.

Not Fully Vaccinated

Employees who have not been vaccinated, may return to work after a close contact if they do not develop symptoms, and 14 days have passed since the last known close contact.  However, if ten days have passed since the last known contact and the person wears a face covering and maintains six feet of distance from other for 14 days following the last close contact they may return to work.  They may also return to work if seven days have passed since the last known close contact and they test negative for COVID-19 with a specimen taken at least five days after the last known close contact, and the person wears a face covering and maintains six feet of distance from others at the workplace for 14 days following the last known close contact.

Employers are reminded that the other portions of the prior ETS will still be in place.  For example, employers must still develop a written COVID-19 Prevention Program, provide training to employees, provide certain COVID-19 disclosures to employees, and pay exclusion pay to employees excluded from work due to a workplace exposure.

California employers must remember to comply with the nuances of the Cal/OSHA Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS), which became effective in November 2020, and are currently set to expire on January 14, 2022.  While California’s COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave expired in September 2021, Cal/OSHA ETS requirement to pay employees for “exclusion pay” still applies to employers.  Here are five reminders about the requirements for California employers to pay exclusion pay under the ETS:

1. Employers must comply with the Cal/OSHA ETS until at least January 14, 2022.

Cal/OSHA is meeting on December 16, 2021 to discuss any potential changes to the ETS and whether to extend the ETS until April 14, 2022.  Regardless of any action taken by Cal/OSHA, employers must still comply with the current ETS, including the requirement to provide exclusion pay to employees until at least January 14, 2022.  Employers need to monitor the December 16th meeting to ensure compliance with any changes that are adopted (we will monitor and post updates, and will provide detailed information to subscribers to our blog).

2. Exclusion pay is required if the employee is excluded from work because of a workplace exposure to COVID-19.

An employee who is excluded from work because of a workplace COVID-19 exposure must receive exclusion pay if: 1) the employee was not assigned to telework during that time; and 2) the employee did not receive Disability Payments or Workers’ Compensation Temporary Disability Payments during the exclusion period.  Cal/OSHA explains that employers do not need to pay exclusion pay if it is a non-work exposure or due to another reason, such as a business closure, caring for a family member, disability, or vacation.  However, the employer has the burden of proof, and must show it is more likely thank not that the employee’s COVID-19 exposure was outside of the workplace.

3. Employers cannot require employees to use paid sick leave provided to employees under California Labor Code section 246.

Employers are prohibited from requiring employees to use their California paid sick leave required under the Healthy Workplace Healthy Family Act of 2014 as set forth in Labor Code section 246.  However, employers may require employees to use any other paid leave provided to employees that is separate and in addition to the California paid sick leave.

4. There is no cap on the total amount of exclusion pay that may be required.

The ETS does not cap the amount of exclusion pay for employees.  However, the ETS does provide that if an employee “is out of work for more than a standard exclusion period based on a single exposure or positive test, but still does not meet the regulation’s requirements to return to work, the employee may be entitled to other benefits, such as Temporary Disability, Disability….”

5. The employee is entitled to their regular rate of pay for the pay period in which the employee is excluded.

The amount of pay an employee is entitled to for exclusion pay is the regular rate of pay for the pay period the employee is excluded.  Cal/OSHA explains, “These employees are entitled to exclusion pay, depending on the length of the required exclusion period and how many days they were scheduled to work during that exclusion period.”  However, Cal/OSHA does not provide any explanation of how to calculate the amount owed to employees who work a variable schedule each pay period.  In addition, the employee must be paid no later than the regular payday for the pay period they had the work-related exclusion.

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.

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.

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.

California employers have been on a four-week rollercoaster ride over Cal/OSHA’s revisions to its Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”). The ETS was originally effective November 2020. In May 2021, the Board for Cal/OSHA approved revisions to the ETS, and then withdrew the revisions five days before California’s state-wide reopening on June 15. Days later the Board proposed new revisions to the ETS.  On June 17, 2021, the Board finally approved revisions to the ETS.  The same day, the Governor signed an Executive Order making the revised ETS effective immediately. Below is a recap of some key new rules under the ETS affecting California employers.

  1. Employers may allow fully vaccinated employees not to wear face coverings indoors (except in outbreaks) but must document their vaccination status.
  2. There are no face covering requirements outdoors (except during outbreaks), regardless of vaccination status, though workers should be trained on the California Department of Public Health’s (“CDPH”) recommendations for outdoor use of face coverings. CDPH’s recommendations can be found here.
  3. In outbreaks, all employees must wear face coverings indoors and outdoors when six-feet physical distancing cannot be maintained, regardless of vaccination status.
  4. Employers must provide unvaccinated employees with approved respirators for voluntary use when working indoors or in a vehicle with others, upon request. The respirator must be the right size, and the employee must receive basic instruction on how to get a good “seal” or fit.
  5. Physical distancing and barrier requirements are eliminated, 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)
  6. Fully vaccinated employees without symptoms do not need to be tested or quarantined after close contacts with COVID-19 cases unless they have symptoms.
  7. Employers may not retaliate against employees from wearing face coverings.
  8. Employers must evaluate ventilation systems to maximize outdoor air and increase filtration efficiency, and evaluate the use of additional air cleaning systems

While employers now have clarification on rules governing masking, physical distancing and barriers in the workplace, they still need to sort out documenting proof of vaccination, providing approved respirators upon request for voluntary use, and testing for fully vaccinated employees.  Cal/OSHA FAQs can be found here.

CAL/OSHA seal

There remains in place many requirements from the original November 2020 ETS, including:

  • Mandatory, written COVID-19 Prevention Programs.
  • 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.

Stay tuned for updates and more guidance to meet the new ETS requirements.

Late on June 9, 2021, Cal/OSHA’s Standards Board withdrew the revisions to its COVID-19 prevention emergency temporary standards (“ETS”) that were approved on June 3, 2021 and were expected to take effect by June 15, 2021, in connection with California’s reopening and lifting of the restrictions under the “Blueprint for a Safer Economy.”  We wrote about the revisions to the ETS approved on June 3 here.

The Board said this vote to withdraw the revised ETS was made during a “meeting to consider the latest guidance regarding masking from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and California Department of Public Health (CDPH).”  In an email sent by the Department of Industrial Relations, they explained:

Those revised emergency standards were expected to go into effect no later than June 15 pending approval by the [Office of Administrative Law] OAL within 10 calendar days after the Standards Board rulemaking package submission. At today’s meeting, the Standards Board voted unanimously to withdraw the revisions approved on June 3 that are currently at OAL for review but have not yet become effective. Cal/OSHA will review the new mask guidance and bring any recommended revisions to the board. The Board could consider new revisions at a future meeting, perhaps as early as the regular meeting on June 17. In the meantime, the protections adopted in November of 2020 will remain in effect.

California employers are looking to Cal/OSHA for guidance on how the state’s reopening on June 15 will impact employers’ obligations.  While California lifts the “Blueprint for a Safer Economy” on June 15, employers are still subject to Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards.  The revisions to the ETS were an attempt to bring the workplace requirements for social distancing and face masks closer to the reopening standards for California residents on June 15.  However, with this June 9th announcement that Cal/OSHA is withdrawing the revised ETS, California employers must still continue to comply with the original ETS issued in November of 2020.  Therefore, even though California is “reopening” on June 15, 2021, California employers will have no relief from their current obligations under the original ETS, and still must continue to comply with those requirements.  For more information about what the original ETS require of California employers, see our prior post here.

Still confused and have questions about what this means for California employers?  Join us for a webinar tomorrow (6/10) at 10 a.m. for a discussion of what this all means for California employers. Click here to register for the webinar.